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by James on December 12th, 2017


This month I’ve begun working on the Art After Turner project for the Hampshire Cultural Trust. The project consists of a commission from the Trust for me to make artwork in response to the Turner and the Sun exhibition, together with students from the Basingstoke College of  Technology (BCOT), and from the Winchester School of Art. Our work will be shown together at an exhibition at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke, from February next year.

I met with most of the students last week at The Willis, so that we could spend some time with the Turner exhibition before it ends, and to meet and introduce ourselves and our work.


Some of the BCOT and WSA students at The Willis Museum

There will be five more sessions with the BCOT students, which the Winchester students will join and act as mentors, as well as researching and developing their own work.

In the first session last week, we talked about how Turner used a range of ways to come to know and represent the sun in his work, from direct observation, and knowledge of contemporary developments in scientific theory, to poetry and myth.

Looking at Turner’s Sketchbooks

It is this holistic way of knowing the world, through both art and science, that is at the centre of our work, and the students will take their own artwork in whatever direction they feel is most appropriate to their developing practice as young artists.

I have started revisiting cyanotypes, which I first made for the Making Memories exhibition in the Summer, and other work made on or for the body. I am interested in how a place leaves its imprint on us, as the sun shines down on us, and we are surrounded by sounds, smells and other bodily sensations. The cyanotype process was developed by Sir John Herschel, son of the astronomer William Herschel and a contemporary of Turner.

Whilst looking at different white clothing that I could use to receive these imprints through the cyanotype process, I came across lab-coats online and ordered myself one. The white lab-coat may be a bit of a stereotypical symbol for a scientist, but I am enjoying the idea that through it my work becomes more playful and performative, and connects with my interests in Holistic Science and Goethean Science – where knowledge is gained through relationship, through artful ways of investigating natural phenomenon, rather than a more distanced form of measurement and analysis.

For this piece of work I am focusing on a short cycling route made up of a loop of country lanes that begins and ends where I live in Wiltshire, which I recently made a Bundle and Pages for, and which for the purposes of this work I am calling The Chirton Loop. I am excited by the idea that I can wear my lab-coat as I cycle the lanes, pausing to collect, write, draw and record, allowing the sun to create images on my back in the form of cyanotypes, and for the previously white coat to evolve and develop through my journeys.

I have started playing with maps of the route/area, layering them through multiple exposure photographs with images of my body, and today I made a cyanotype on an old t-shirt of my Dad’s to see what would happen in this weather.

I wasn’t sure how well the Winter sunshine would work (propped up on my bin to catch the low sun), but the image is looking good, with much more contrast than I was expecting, although it’s still wet in this photo.

Tomorrow I’ll be at BCOT, catching up with progress and hearing what research the students themselves have been carrying out. Please do follow all of our progress via the #ArtAfterTurner hashtag on Instagram and other social media.

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