A fabricated version of the creative processes that propel the artist Sharon Hall Shipp
‘Hall Shipp combines the virtues of chance with the aesthetics of geometry to document our desire for establishing patterns – whether that be imagined, sub-conscious or directly. Hall Shipp’s process reveals how pattern making allows us to establish a connection with our environments’
Speculative Studios was an exhibition at BasementArtsProject that assumed the studio spaces of two artists, based on their exhibition pieces from COLONIZE, New York, in 2014.
A fabricated version of the creative processes that propel the artist David Cotton
‘An interest in cartography informed with a desire for travel, Cotton’s work attaches the historical presumptions of mythology to the scientific advances of modern map making techniques. This reveals both the inaccuracies that exist within modern map design and cartography’s capacity for narrative, aesthetic and metaphor.’
Speculative Studios was an exhibition at BasementArtsProject that assumed the studio spaces of two artists, based on their exhibition pieces from COLONIZE, New York, in 2014.
After a period of inactivity – due in no small part to a bloody annoying leak in my living room – it is time to reflect on my most recent exhibition.
‘Speculative Studios’ occupied BasementArtsProject from the 10th – 20th June. It was the latest incarnation of my project ‘Speculative Studio Spaces‘, which takes an exhibition piece produced by another artist and attempts to re-imagine the process of arriving at the finished piece by fabricating the artists’ entire studio space. On this occasion I actually fabricated two speculative studio spaces based on two artists I came in contact with during COLONIZE in 2014.
The project uses the studio as a tool that can be exploited and manipulated in order to reveal something about the intent, desires and creative processes of an artist which, in turn, gifts the audience a sense of perception. It assigns the studio to the role of a portrait, revealing a facet of an artist’s identity that is usually veiled behind a space that is often regarded as private.
Yet, in its purely static and aesthetic state, ‘Speculative Studios’ also nurtured ideas leaning toward set design, and a set design often acts merely as an appendage to the action of a narrative. Put simply, my presence within the space is often a key entry point for an audience, as it clarifies the intent and focus of a project that could otherwise be marred by complexities. Therefore a degree of performance was added to this incarnation – the mere act of being present allowed an audience to connect directly with my intentions.
Of course, it’s all very well me spouting off about some of the high end concepts Speculative Studio Spaces contains, but what it – and indeed all art – needs more than anything else is an audience. Speculative Studios at BasementArtsProject was modestly attended, and those who did attend were well immersed. Almost all attendees spent at least half an hour within the space attempting to uncover its layers and concepts. As I made the decision to include two artists, I was also cautious not to overload each studio space as I wanted a studio space and exhibition hybrid to exist. It was assumed that this would allow a more contemplative show for an audience as they look for clues towards creative processes as opposed to simply having creative processes thrust upon them. I wanted an audience to navigate their own way through the space, making their own connections derived from their own experiences, with my presence constantly driving home the notion of fiction in order to inform their contemplative actions.
I think other artists can readily identify with Speculative Studio Spaces, and that it’s certainly not as accessible as the other strand of my creative endeavours – Perfume as Practice. But it certainly creates complex and relevant conversations about what it means to be an artist, how your identity as an artist can be exploited and the fabrication of creative processes, assembled to resemble a studio can say something about how artists are perceived.
The next incarnation of Speculative Studio Spaces will in some part take the form of a stage play. Don’t know where, don’t know when.
Yesterday Comprised Collaborations – a group exhibition I am part of – opened at Cafe Ollo in Huddersfield Media Centre. The exhibition invited artists to consider the nature of collaboration; it’s bearing on creative processes and consequently, it’s effect on audience perception.
I used the opportunity to develop Speculative Studio Spaces – a project that speculates upon the identity of an artist through a process of fabricating their studio space based on an exhibition piece.
The project is multi-faceted, as pitching a highly personal space such as a studio space into the gaze of the public without the artists’ creative control throws up all sorts of implications: From identity, ownership and authorship to a reflective critique of creative processes. Forcing artists to relinquish control of their processes – and the implications thereof – reveals vulnerability, allowing an audience to connect and establish a relationship with them on a more humane, personal level.
However, with Comprised Collaborations, it was I who relinquished part of the creative process – I had no control over my choice of artist, no control over the medium of the piece and no control over any curatorial technicalities. The result is a piece that, for me personally, possesses at once a sense of familiarity and distance. This runs parallel to the nature of collaboration and as such,allows the audience to consider and reflect upon the nature of negotiating and co-operation.
The artist himself – Jim Geddes – is sadly no longer with us, as such, Speculative Studio Spaces becomes primed with new meaning. That is, the implications of collaborating posthumously. In death, does the tone of Speculative Studio Spaces change? Does it celebrate the artist or does it became a powerful tool for re-aligning history? Or does it sit somewhere in between? And what are the implications? These are questions my work in offers an audience when the connotations of collaborating with an artist posthumously are attached.
All in all, Comprised Collaborations has been rewarding as it has allowed me to assess and evaluate Speculative Studio Spaces differently, thus giving richness and texture to the overall project. For an audience, the multi-faceted nature of the project should reveal something to everyone.
Comprised Collaborations runs from now until 7th September at Café Ollo, Huddersfield Media Centre.
My next Speculative Studio Spaces exhibition will be at BasementArtsProject from 10th – 20th June.
Last week marked the end of Speculative Studio Spaces – by exhibition at Access Space, Sheffield. The experience was punctuated by two events; the Opening Evening and an Artists Talk and Guide. Both gave me valuable insight into how the project is perceived, what works and what can be tweaked for upcoming exhibitions due next year.
Two things in particular caught my attention – the need for my presence and how Speculative Studio Spaces demands certain a level of engagement. Speculative Studio Spaces is not a piece that can be glanced at passively. It requires physical and mental input and a sense of resonance within the space. It will reveal itself to you if you give it time. It can be easily dismissed as nothing but a studio space but it’s true existence – that of a fabricated studio space based on someone’s exhibition piece – isn’t all that hidden if you take the time to find it.
But of course, how would an audience even be expected to know this? Well, that’s where I come in. Essentially I need to be there. Transforming the space from an instillation to a performance piece – I act as the key to unlocking the space as I reveal myself not as an artist in his studio space, but as an artist responsible for fabricating a speculative studio space. With myself present, the audience have an access point – a way of penetrating the space and identifying with it. Essentially I would position myself as the ultimate interactive prop!
The talk and Guide event offered me the opportunity to externalise my thought process and hence come to the above conclusions. It was a valuable means of evaluating the work and receiving feedback. Though more than this, it offered an audience insight into the process and reasons for making.
And yet, Speculative Studio Spaces will become a support act within my overall creative output for the next six months as attentions return to the world of perfumery. The transition began in earnest last weekend, with a trip to the Derby Makers Faire. This gave me an opportunity to display my perfume making abilities whilst describing to an audience my approach to perfumery.
My practice was very well met, with an interactive element that went down especially well with under-10’s. Indeed, I hadn’t thought of delivering this activity before but the opportunity is certainly there.
It also struck me how much I actually know about perfumes. That might sound like an odd statement, but that’s probably because I don’t consider myself a perfumer – more an artist currently using perfume as a platform to instigate creative processes and provide alternatives to pre-conceived notions. Still, I am able to hold conversations with those with similar practices, and offer advice and guidance on the processes involved. I certainly seem more adept in the language of perfumery than I’d perhaps considered. And as such, more adept in the world of scent in general.
So, In preparation for my exhibition at Bank Street Arts early next year, I am posing the question to other artists and makers ‘why do you make art?’ and I will use the response provided to create a perfume that acts as a portrait. So if you’re an artist or maker, I’d love to hear your response! 🙂
Over the last week I have been doing a fair bit of juggling; visits to BasementArtsProject, Leeds and Access Space, Sheffield have re-kindled my desire to explore and develop my Speculative Studio Space project – with exhibitions now planned in September this year and June next year. As a project that has been superseded slightly by Perfume as Practice, it’s great to give Speculative Studio Spaces a little attention, with exhibitions to work towards and events to plan. Not to mention developing the project in a coherent and inclusive way.
Video games too, have re-entered my creative concious, with an opportunity to exhibit a poetry piece in Liverpool early next year. My initial efforts attempt to reveal poetry in the coding found in video games, extending the experience of gaming by offering new perspectives and attempting to penetrate the language of code in an accessible way:
And as for Perfume as Practice, well most of my crowdfunding reward fulfilment has been …eer …fulfilled. This means that I can finally stop thinking about crowdfunding technicalities and actually begin to make the work, which is quite a liberating feeling! Now, time to knuckle down.
A visit to three separate arts organisations over two days last week has reinforced my Speculative Studio Spaces body of work. Enthused with it’s positive reception, I now need to spend time thinking about the exact shape the different outputs of Speculative Studio Spaces can take, as well as any other events or talks I could host.
One thing that I like about Speculative Studio Spaces on a personal level is that, quite apart from the ridged, tight, research-lead residency at Bank Street Arts, Speculative Studio Spaces is malleable; I can play loose-and-fast with it as it’s a wide-ranging brief. But it is a theme that is affecting of all artists as all artists have some kind of connection with a studio space: They may be embracing or dismissive of it; it may provide solace and moments of personal reflection; it might be a space where ideas can be placed and left to crystallise; or it might even be a place of intense frustration. This is great because it means I can present Speculative Studio Spaces in several different ways, and ways which may compliment the spaces in which I present them.
What struck me through the conversations I had last week, at Neo:Artists, Bolton, at Basement Arts and at East Street Arts, Leeds, is that the studio space is able to be arrived at from the view of critical assessment – analysing the very processes that occur whilst the artist is at work whilst also exploiting the personal nature of the studio space. My work could provide a visual critique that deals, not with an exhibition piece, but the very practice of working.
A studio space that speculates what would happen if an artist who investigates our relationship with materials instead arrived at his work by investigating the concept of chance.
An assembled studio space, then, can assume the position of critical review – assessing how the artist works as if their actions bear more value than their finished articles. Indeed, the identity of an artist is highlighted far more potently in a working environment than an exhibition space, due to the fact that it functions based on personal preference. An exhibition needs to be crafted to ensure your audience is able to perceive your identity in a desired way. A studio speaks of your identity through every choice you make within that space. It is when that choice is relinquished – when a studio space starts to behave more like an exhibition space – that the artist can reflect on their practice whilst an audience can reflect upon the concepts of identity, ownership and authorship.
Though if I wish I can be more abstract than all that. I could, for example, take an artist who I know to be a performance artist, then reassemble a space around a performance piece of theirs that would speculate what their work space would look like if they were, say, a visual artist. If an audience witnesses an artist that associates themselves with one discipline being completely relinquished of that discipline, then what effect would that have on the artists’ identity? Would they examine the importance of the choices they make within a workspace? Would they be left feeling vulnerable, dis-armored? Or would it reinforce their creative directions? And would an audience see this deconstruction of an artist and re-assembly towards something abstract as exploitative to an artist, or as a means of visual analysis?
I suppose this post has simply allowed me to place a few of my thoughts. As I mentioned, Speculative Studio Spaces is able to accommodate many avenues of inquiry, so getting a few thoughts down helps me refine and understand those avenues. Overall, I would hope Speculative Studio Spaces would assume the role of a visual assessment of how artists work and how their work has a direct bearing on their perceived identity. And through deconstruction and re-assembly, I would hope that Speculative Studio Spaces would assess the nature of how we work in relation to who we are.
I’d like to thank Neo:Artists, BasementArts and East Street Arts for the opportunity to work with them and to explore different avenues of Speculative Studio Spaces. Looking forward to working with all of you!
2014 has been a joyously productive beast with a tenancy to provide moments of reflection and a degree of transiency. My practice has meandered from the virtues of re-imagining still-life to exploiting the art found within video games to considering the studio space as a viable means of expression.
My identity as an artist has shifted. With a view to dismiss the problematic notion of being considered simply as ‘that guy who makes paint out of food’ I sought new ways of investigating the creative process, including looking at the nature of the idea, ways in which artists interact with their materials and their spaces and investigating the tension between the studio space and the exhibition space.
My year – in the context of my creative practice – began in February, as I threw myself into holding my first solo exhibition. Ironically, this particular endeavour provided me with a new found respect for collaborative work, as the strains of doing everything yourself left me exhausted and unfulfilled. Though it was a valuable experience overall.
March and April saw focus shift from our group exhibition in New York. SCIBase – a collaborative I’m a part of – was to hold an exhibition spanning two galleries in Jamestown, NY during April: Though of course the organisation and cash required to get artists over the pond required a great deal of planning. I cannot take much credit for the planning myself, I was just happy to be involved in this collaborative for the first time. Hopefully I will redeem such lack of direct planning with a collaborative I am trying to arrange for next year between SCI and Yorkshire Artspace.
There was a great deal of success to be found within our exhibition in Jamestown, not least because we became an example of a crowdfunding campaign that actually worked! Though, with regard to my actual practice, one thing became clear – My food based pursuits had reached a logical conclusion.
And so, to new directions: My work has always involved looking at ways to investigate creative processes and so, whilst the idea of ‘finding art in video games’ might have appeared to have come out of nowhere, I would suggest that the notion of taking something, removing it from it’s context and re-imagining it within another space is a subject I have always been concerned with.
From May to October I acquainted myself with the subject of video games and, through two co-devised and co-curated exhibitions at Millennuim Galleries and Access Space, met several artists who themselves are concerned with the themes found within gaming. On reflection, the exhibition at Millennuim Galleries was probably quite insular; a lot of work had to be done – from finding a place for artists to drop off work to finding exhibition walls in order to hang the stuff! – and I believe this amount of work had a negative impact on the execution. Perhaps I am being a little harsh due to the stresses of being directly involved in the organisation of it, but the exhibition on the whole seemed to lack a little atmosphere and perhaps became disconnected from its source material.
The lessons learnt during the Millenium Galleries Exhibition were applied to the exhibition at Access Space – a much more coherent, well-received, and fun celebration of what gaming can be. It’s probably the highlight of my year, and it’s success has allowed me to develop lasting relationships with artists and arts organisations – something valuable to an artist still within the relatively early stages of their career. Credit too should go to Access Space, who – as well as thinking the whole thing was a bloody good idea – were unparalleled in their support and guidance. I really hope I work with them again.
As we approached Autumn it became apparent that the transition from food-based work to something else still remained. I returned to the source of why I had been looking at food in the first place; namely, in an attempt to disrupt the process of creating works of Still Life. I began to develop work around the Physical properties of items, the materials we use and the choices we make in order to form a relationship with those materials and so, the idea of the ‘Speculative Studio Space’ was born, almost fully-formed, to act alongside my upcoming residency at Bank Street Arts as a strong springboard from which to leap into 2015.
There was other stuff too, of course, not least mine and Sharon’s ‘Reviving Leviathan’ collaboration and the exhibition I hosted at Funky Aardvark Gallery, Chester. All valuable experiences and all contributing to a fruitful and productive year overall.
Indeed, it isn’t over yet. I still have paint for sale at Cupola Gallery. Yes, the whole year has passed and I’m still ‘that guy who makes paint from food!’ I’m more than happy to make it if people enjoy it though. I just don’t want it to be all I’m known for; which hopefully I’m not anymore.
Anyway the paint, made from chocolate, retails at £5. A great gift for those chosen few who are fond of both painting and chocolate at this festive time of year. …Oh, that reminds me, happy ruddy holidays everyone 🙂
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.