P is for…

…one of my oldest school friends who is now a doctor…Pippa. I could never be a doctor, I think my brain is wired differently somehow. P is also for the promise of when I get to the letter P, define P is for Pippa. Keeping your promises are important too, so P is also for promises, never promise something if you can’t stand by your words. The power of words is overwhelming sometimes, and they can really stick in your head, forever. Speaking of Pippa, she lives in Newcastle, as does the BALTIC (can a building live somewhere?) and currently on display until 16 May 2010 at the BALTIC is an exhibition by Jenny Holzer. She has to be in my top ten artists, well text artists for sure, not that I should have a ranking process at all…I can remember seeing her work at the Armory Art Fair 2008 with Cheim & Read when I was cruising the art fairs in New York with my colleague and friend Basem Hassan…Holzer has always given me creative inspiration and will continue for years to come…

So let’s see what’s happened in the last two weeks…I should really have written a blog post prior to this but it really has been a busy time lately, as ever! That is NO excuse though. March began with honesty, admitting that I couldn’t quite keep up with all that is and was going on around me. I needed a few weeks PhD leeway and courtesy of two very understanding PhD supervisors Darren and Joshua, they let me have it. I think the teaching has taken a lot more out of me than I thought it would, along with the teacher training. This means that the 9R formal PhD application form is slowly coming together…alongside two funding applications. Eek! Fingers and toes crossed for these ones as I really do need them for autumn fieldwork trip to China. RJW will also be accompanying me on this trip which I am so pleased about. He will hopefully be getting some design experience whilst we are out there. Currently, there is talk of us having an apartment for a month in Shanghai. I’m excited, well more than excited…

The artists’ talk has finally been confirmed for the exhibition \”home\” at the AirSpace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent. It is an informal ‘In conversation’ event on Saturday 27th March 2010 starting at 1pm with artists Kashif Nadim Chaudry, Chinmoyi Patel, myself and Senior Curator David Schischka Thomas from the New Art Exchange in Nottingham. He is so knowledgable about all things creative in the South Asian realm so I am glad I will have his presence there that day. The event will also be followed by a drinks reception, which is kind of acting as a closing party. If you can attend it would be great to see you there. Also find below a short low-res film from the private view night which gives you an idea of the show. It starts at the rear of the gallery with Hetain Patel’s work moving through the space to the main space at the front of the gallery. Credit goes to RJW for the film. Many, many thanks. This is also the first time I have uploaded to YouTube…I think more films might appear on this blog now.

Moving on…another couple of days of lecturing at LUSAD and another series of no-show students. This is somewhat frustrating, but at the same time allows me to integrate with the year group and give other students the opportunity to have a tutorial.  There are some fantastic students on the course, and I can’t mention names until after the degree show…(then a little critique can begin)…but I always feel as though I have super good discussions with the students and hope that after these they feel confident and motivated to progress with their practice. This brings me on to the completion of the Professional Development Review essay for the SEDA PPG course. 1500 words…well actually just under 2000 (as ever Marsden writes too much)…of personal thoughts about teaching, teaching so far, teaching practice, how your research links to teaching and is teaching part of your future plans and career. I think I got a little too creative with my words again, we’ll see what the feedback says…I like writing, especially if it is from a more personal perspective. For the next teacher training session we have been asked to find a presentation from TED. I love this website! Hmmmmm now which one to choose, so many options…

A week last Friday, I spent the afternoon and evening in Manchester with my PhD supervisor Joshua. The trip was primarily for a meeting with Sally Lai and Ying Kwok from the Chinese Arts Centre but also to catch a few exhibitions including ‘Walls are Talking’ at the Whitworth Art Gallery, ‘Facing East’ at the Manchester Art Gallery, ‘The Edge of Things’ by David Mackintosh at the Cornerhouse and ‘Negotiable Values’ at the Chinese Arts Centre. It was quite an afternoon, and you forget how exhausting the process of observing actually is…and critically analysing…thinking, assessing, viewing. The exhibition at the Whitworth Art Gallery was particularly notable. It would have been really good to know who curated it, not just designed it…’Facing East’ was somewhat disappointing. Joshua and I expected more works to be on show. I did like the house and studio reconstruction by Yoshimoto Nara, though the music emanating from it seemed to interfere with the overall exhibition.

The meeting at the Chinese Arts Centre was a little daunting at first, but as discussions unravelled it became exciting, very exciting. Hopefully, in the coming PhD years, I will be working with the Chinese Arts Centre in relation to my research, perhaps in the form of an exhibition…an event…a film screening…a series of workshops or seminars…a focus group…many practical options through which to find out more information and viewpoints. Sally and Ying were lovely and so welcoming. It has become apparent thought that I need to become more specific about my research…am I merely doing a comparison of the contemporary vs previous methods of curatorial display through which to exhibition contemporary Chinese art, or am I searching for the “new”? What questions do I want to ask people? Is it the interpretive process of translation from multiple perspectives…the public? the curator? the press? the artist? When looking at artists who suddenly arrive in a different cultural environment, specifically the UK, how does it influence them? How do they translate their work? Does this happen automatically? How does the process shape their work? These are a few things which Sally raised. We spoke of having a discussion prior to my fieldwork trip in the Autumn of this year as to what I specifically want to discover and how it relates to their current and future exhibitions, events and education programme. I’ll let you know what happens. I do hope I get to work with them. I think the first step is to continue communications and go and use their fantastic library.

Also, Joshua mentioned the phrase “to have a tiger’s head and a rat’s tail” in relation to the outcomes of the CCVA conference in November 2009. The information from that conference, as well as from the forthcoming event in Guangzhou in October 2010, he wants to turn into a reader. Joshua has suggested that I might be able to help…apparently it could be a research assistant post, part-time too. his would be perfect timing and make me feel as though I am heading more in the right direction. Whilst sitting in the Manchester Art Gallery cafe drinking really mint tea with my first PhD supervisor Joshua I secretly read my horoscope in the free tabloid Metro newspaper. It is usually spot on and didn’t fail this time. It said “teaching comes under lucky influences, and if you’re not learning something new, you’ll be telling others how to do it”…let’s just say it was a complete day of learning for me, with open eyes, an open mind and open to many new experiences…which included having dinner with barely a word of English spoken. I tried my hardest to speak respectful Mandarin…I hope they noticed my effort!

Work has been delivered to the Created in Birmingham shop in the Bullring, Birmingham, which is showcasing and selling work by creatives from Birmingham and the West Midlands. So, ok, I know I’m from Stafford but I work primarily in Wolverhampton and Birmingham so let me off…I gave them many different packs of the handmade ‘conceptually embedded’ paper and a handful of bookmarks, a new series of bookmarks, so let’s see what sells! Fingers crossed I’ll get some interest. I now realise I should have photographed these items before I sent them to the shop but RJW kindly went and took some snaps in the shop yesterday (as shown below). He got a great photograph of someone looking at the paper packs. Thumbs up to RJW!

One response to “P is for…

  1. lovely post, it eminates a jedi calm. I love that you have a top ten text artists. thats geek cute. I am entering the realm of ball juggling madness so its interesting to read how your managing. Fantastic progress rachel.

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