In May I’ll be involved in no less than 4 exhibitions and events. A busy time indeed, but one I am very much looking forward to getting stuck into!
May also marks the return of one strand of my creative endeavours – Speculative Studio Spaces – which sees me construct a fabricated studio space based on the exhibition piece of another artist. When a highly personal space such as an artists studio is opened to investigation and interpretation, what does that say about the artist, the outward perception of the artist and how we regard creative processes?
I will be staging a Speculative Studio Space as part of a group exhibition in Huddersfield Media Centre. The studio I will be fabricating is that of the artist Jim Geddes (1932-2009) who I’m told was a rather prolific artist in his time. The process of creating this space is a slight departure from previous Speculative Studio Spaces, as this time I haven’t personally chosen the artist. It will be interesting to see how relinquishing control of part of the process effects the overall space.
In the midst of preparing, installing and maintaining Speculative Studio Spaces I have also been able to do something I rarely do – Go out and actually look at a bit of art.
It’s a rarity for a couple of reasons. For one, the idea of actually going out and seeing work is often jostling for position on a never ending to-do list, and alas, is usually something I can omit. Not least because I don’t tend to draw inspiration from an exhibition. Rather, it tends to emerge from philosophy, psychology, poetry, video games, or is informed by research into industries my practice covers, such as food and fragrance.
Not that I’m making excuses. Visiting exhibitions is very valuable for the artist, as it reinforces thought processes, allows you to assess the accessibility of your own practice and allows you to gain an understanding of your place within the art world relative to others. Not to mention the social benefits. I do wish I went to more stuff and will seek to in the future.
But one thing I have seen over the last two weeks, is an exhibition spanning various spaces in Sheffield, named Going Public.
Going Public seeks to raise awareness of art collections and make them more accessible, as well as provide insight into how and why collections are founded and maintained. 4 collections are represented over 5 venues. and so far I have seen all venues bar one.
The Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection found at Sheffield Cathedral impressed, and got me thinking about art in relation to the space it occupies. It got me thinking of producing scent sculptures, which would only really be defined – and totally dependent – on space. In terms of providing me with thought in relation to my on practice, Sheffield Cathedral’s exhibits delivered.
The DSL collection – that includes major pieces by contemporary Chinese artists – found at SIA Gallery and Site gallery also intrigued. Though I feel perhaps a little too far removed from their original context. The exhibition at SIA in particular feels a little isolating and impenetrable. Though again there is a level of accessibility that should be applauded.
Hovever, it’s the The Cattelain Collection at Millenuim Gallery that stands out the most. I loved it, actually! From a considered treatment of light to a grand textile piece, each work displays an affinity between artist and material; something to consider for me when investigating and experimenting with perfumery. Curated with a quiet harmony and with a playful level of interaction, I’d heartily recommend this to anyone.
In fact, I’d recommend the whole of Going Public. While some collections sit more pertinently in their spaces then others, each collection offers something different, while retaining the principles of collections and public accessibility.
Going Public is on around Sheffield until 12th December.
After the inevitable massive push that comes with the instillation and promotion of an exhibition, the beginning of October has seen a period of reflection: An assessment of the patterns that are emerging by virtue of my own intuition with every speculative studio space I have installed. I have concluded that these patterns, whilst inevitable, could have a negative impact of future speculative studio space exhibitions if not quelled. It is the authenticity of a speculative studio space that shapes its success, after all.
So with this, and with an upcoming open studio event looming in my mind, I see it fit to externalise these thoughts and provide insight into my Speculative Studio Spaces project to an audience. The aim is to provide an informative guide to the nature of my project, including notions of how creative choices can be relinquished from the artist, and how this process can encourage instructive thinking about identity, ownership and authorship.
So, I present to you a Speculative Studio Spaces Talk and Guide this coming Thursday at Access Space! I will be on-hand to talk through the concept, process and instillation of a Speculative Studio Space, the implications of a Speculative Studio Space and future Speculative Studio Space projects. I will also be on-hand to answer any questions.
You can find more details on this facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/147744285576108/
I hope to see you there as it should be a fun and interesting evening. Plus there will be a bar, which is always nice! Plus, with Perfume as Practice – a project developing alongside Speculative Studio Space, taking precedence from now until spring 2016, it is safe to say that this will be the last Speculative Studio Spaces event for a little while.
Last Friday saw the opening of my current Speculative Studio Spaces exhibition at Access Space, Sheffield, and features an instillation of a fabricated studio space of the Halifax-based artist Jo Brown.
The exhibition takes one of Jo’s exhibition pieces and attempts to construct a studio space that considers how the artist arrived at the idea. The result is a speculative studio space that simultaneously acts as a portrait of the artist and reveals notions around how identity is perceived based on public perception and what happens then creative choices are seized from the artist and given to informed interpretation and critical subjection.
The instillation reads like set design, with each object positioned in a way simultaneously considered and spontaneous. It’s all too easy to make the whole thing look contrived, though, and early in the instillation process I found myself positioning objects in a way akin to curating. This approach needed to be abandoned if the piece is able to hold any authenticity and, over the course of the instillation process, I found a more intuitive way to place objects, allowing a comfortable sense of naturalness to occur – as if the artist is fully embedded within the space:
I have tried to withhold my own intuition and come to informed conclusions as to how Jo would exist within the space – taking into account both her speculative creative output and how artists adapt to the spaces they find themselves in. And yet, for all the attempted removal of my own hand, there is evidence of introspective elements. I suppose it’s no surprise that a few patterns have emerged with each studio space I have constructed. Chiefly around the positioning of the artworks themselves.
Are these patterns all part and parcel of the process? Do I conclude that there is something innate about creative processes, even if the work you are doing is attempting to re-imagine creative processes? Or do these patterns represent flaws in the project as a whole? I’d probably plump for the former, especially when I consider that overall, the project is well received and understood. However, it’s something to think about when developing the project further.
You can see ‘Speculative Studio Spaces’ at Access Space, Sheffield, from 22 September to 15 October 2015. It’s open Tuesday to Friday, 11am to 5pm. I am also planning to run an event that futher explans the projec. Watch this space!
Studio spaces. What are they? Are they a form of refuge? a highly personal space that demands the removal of inhabitation? A platform where artists can come, meet and feel resolve from mutually beneficial conversation? A space to develop informed and meaningful creative practice? Or simply a space where you can exist in isolation from the worlds troubles to do whatever the hell you want?
Whatever they are, their existence within creative practice helps the artist arrive at visual conclusions via a plethora of choices comprised of thoughts, ideas, images, materials, surfaces and tools. The decisions artists make within a studio develops engagement with their practice and allows the artist to construct their artistic identity. The studio also allows the artist to develop an affinity with materials, which in turn reinforce how we wish to be perceived: If an artist uses steel, for example, then they begin to be regarded as such, and that material is able to be attached to the artists’ perceived identity.
Yet the true nature of studio spaces is rarely portrayed to an audience, despite the fact that a studio space is able to provide true insight into identity in relation to creative processes. True, us artists often allow an audience to grace our studio spaces via ‘Open Studio’ events. But these are largely fabricated; any mess is cleaned up, materials and tools hare hidden, and any creative activity is removed in favour of displaying finished works. They function as pseudo-exhibitions, enabling the audience to witness how an artist wishes to be perceived, but providing no insight into the studios’ day-to-day role.
There’s something about the true nature of studio spaces that can be exploited and taken in new, engaging and potentially innovative directions. From 2015 I hope to take an informed and balanced gaze upon the nature of studio spaces, the artists relationship with studio spaces and how that relationship develops, enhances and cements identity.
Currently, I hypothesise that the notion of relinquishing any choice from the artist and constructing a speculative studio space is able to at once investigate how creative processes develop whilst simultaneously disarming the artist of their identity. Indeed, I have trialled the notion of speculative studios during Yorkshire Artspaces ‘Open Studios’ last month. I took the end products from two separate artists and constructed a studio space that speculated how the artist may have arrived at such a conclusion:
Relinquishing the artist of the choices they make intends to expose how creative process relate to the construction of identity and intends investigate the problematic implications of authorship and ownership in relation to how an audience may perceive an artist when an artist has no input in the matter.
I would initially suggest that re-contextualising the choices artists make within a studio as end products – which is essentially what my ‘speculative studio spaces’ are – may reveal a studio space that reads like a portrait: An alternative identity that reveals a chance to assess and reflect upon creativity from a difference space, as well as provide a commentary for how creative processes can be manipulated for the sake of exposing identity.