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Researching and Exhibiting – #ArtAfterTurner

by James on January 11th, 2018

With 4 out of the 6 project sessions now behind us, and the exhibition opening at the beginning of next month (1st to 24th February at The Willis Museum, Basingstoke), the #ArtAfterTurner project is reaching an exciting phase.

Yesterday and in the previous session, I worked with the other artists (students from Basingstoke College of Technology, and Winchester School of Art, and a textile artist, who previously attended both BCOT and WSA), to explore the role of sketchbooks in artists’ research – and the importance of making room for playfulness and experimentation when working towards a commission.

Sophia’s Sketchbook

Maryam’s Experiment

With an exhibition looming, and a final piece to be worked towards, it’s easy to feel the pressure and begin to close things down, making fixed plans based on existing ideas and past successes. In this project though, we are looking for the students to create contemporary responses to an exhibition of 19th Century paintings, and offer visitors a new experience. I want to give the group permission to try new techniques, combine media in new ways, and above all to make work that is directly meaningful to them and their own lives, as Turner’s was to him.

Perry’s Book

A page of Reece’s book

In my own work I am having the same struggles, wanting to create a strong piece that will sit well in the gallery, whilst making space for the unexpected to happen, holding a plan loosely enough so that my intuition can still step in, and guide me in the way that the work needs to go.

Since my last post I have tried unsuccessfully to print onto my labcoat using the cyanotype process, before realising it was part polyester. A new 100% cotton labcoat is now painted and drying. Over Christmas I drew and painted alongside my son, using his felt-tips and crayons, continuing to explore the relationship between the human and heavenly bodies.

Today I have been cycling around the Chirton Loop again, taking sheets of acetate with me to create transparent Cycle Pages, hopefully dark enough to themselves leave their mark on the labcoat when laid over the cyanotype, in the Winter sun. A test piece that I made by layering  acetate with handwritten and letraset text, over a cyanotype handprint, worked really well, so I’m confident that I now have all the elements ready to bring together.

There is going to be a really interesting mix of artwork in the show, from fashion and textiles to painting, photographic printing and a variety of mixed-media pieces, and the project Instagram page is filling up with a load of images of work in progress – take a look at www.instagram.com/artafterturner

The launch of the #ArtAfterTurner exhibition will take place at The Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery, Basingstoke on Wednesday 7th February from 6 to 8 pm. For directions and accessibility information please see here.

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