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First GAP group crit – First term in review

Exhibitions plans, new art practice habits and new reading!

Last week I had my first group crit with the other two artists from the GAP studio collective, Kasia and Georgina. For the next couple of months, we will establish group crits as part of our weekly routine allocating an hour for each one of us to discuss our art practice and our progress with the rest of the group studio.  

The group crits are part of the framework we want to build in preparation for an exhibition coming up in March (with dates probably changing because of the Covid madness!). The exhibition we are planning would be a group show that displays our work together in one room: painting, drawing and digital art. The title we are working with at the moment is “how did we get here?”, referring to the journey each of as has been through in 2020 and how our art practice has been a tool to process it. Obviously, the title also aims to resonate with the audience since everyone’s lives have been drastically changed in the strange months leading up to the exhibition.  

With exhibition we want to show how our 3 different art practices are surprisingly connected. The core question our artworks ask point at very similar directions. We believe this is because of the symbiotic relationship that emerges when artists work together.  Working in the same space, leads to exchanging ideas, sharing books, offering generous suggestions and artists influence each other. The goal of having group crits is to fuel this process and help us become more aware of it. There is a reason we want to make work together, sharing a space with other artist you don’t make work in a vacuum, you make work in an environment of other artworks growing around you.   

Sharing your work with other artists is key to staying motivated, and sometimes a group crit is the fuel you need to get the momentum all artists are looking for. That is definitely the way I felt on my first group crit!  

It’s been a challenging start to making work after graduating. Part of the reason is ending my degree with an interrupted installation practice because of my knee injury (and pandemic) and the loss of a physical Degree Show. As soon as I had my studio set up, I came face to face with the “I don’t know where to start” problem. I didn’t have my big installation spaces anymore, I didn’t have my expensive LICA projectors and media players, I didn’t have a place warm enough to grow Bio Artwork and I didn’t have and end of term deadline. But what was most important is that I didn’t know what my art practice was outside of uni.  

This resulted in a not very active first “term” (September to December) of studio practice at the GAP my studio. They have been months of hibernation for my art practice in which I haven’t produced much original work. My doubts and difficulties of resuming with my work have led me to spend the little time I had for my studio practice with art research, attempting to apply for open calls, reading and building my new website. In a way, I think this pause was necessary to adapt with all the changes I mentioned earlier, but part of me is scared of losing momentum in my practice.  

During this process I narrowed down the core themes of my practice to understand what is it that I was interested in and what directions I wanted to take my work. Here is what I came up with: 

–       About the self within the entanglement
–       The other contributes (organisms and living place, animism)
–       Impermanence. Unpredictability and chance. 
–       Technology can be the vehicle to represent the (moving) (layered) non-physical.  

The group crit with the GAP team was a great point to “test” these key themes and see if they were present in the crit as the other shared what their perception of my work was.  The crit also helped me solidify how important it is to me to have an academic base is as a foundation for the work I make. It also helped me narrow down what is it about my academic reading that I wanted to focus on which, surprise surprise, it was Timothy Morton’s strange stranger.  That also tied very strongly with the “Abyssal Intimacies” of what does it mean to care for a non-human. This came out of that discussion “The problem of using Anthropocentric measures to weigh the value of non-humans”. With my work, I want to challenge those measures, flipping the scales with the encounter with the strange stranger.  

Another great take away from the crit is a reminder of the importance to narrow things down, and why it’s always a challenge. Georgina advised me to not interpret having a concrete focus as ignoring to the other branches of my practice, but to think about it a “one part of a larger body of work” (it sounded like it came out of the mouth of an art tutor!)  

With thinking like this I achieved during this term, I feel like I have more of a sense of direction and the necessary tools to break the cycle of “I don’t know where to start”, which is to just start! I’m very inspired by Georgina’s recent format of just producing loads of work in a short time (a week or two) and then analysing it in a critical way later. So, I suppose this is the short-term goal for now – to bring back the “installation experiments” I used to schedule in every week when I was working at the LICA studios.  

I have some form of installation growing behind me that is slowly becoming an installation experiment. It’s inspired by the looms I saw at the Macclesfield silk museum, so I have recently emailed the museum to find information that helps me continue that initial idea.  

I also want to do more silk fabric projection mapping in big and small scales. I feel like those lasts experiments I did before the sudden end of uni were one of the most successful installation formats I explored, but I only got to work on that for a couple of sessions so it’s definitely worth returning to explore it further!   

Currently I’m re-reading “The Ecological Thought” by Timothy Morton which explores the ideas of the “strange stranger” and the “mesh” which are the ideas that inspire my current installation experiments! I believe that reading book at this time will be a great source of inspiration to fuel me through the start of this new chapter in my art practice!.  


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