Memories I No Longer Need – A Conversation Between Jonathon Baxter & Pete Kinnear

I met Jonathan Baxter a few weeks ago during his ‘Post-Mortem’ residency at Generator. I cannot begin to describe the exhibition space he inhabited. A collectors haven, would be a start. A life size archive of… well as far as I could see, everything. Including the nothings we often disregard. There were boxes of broken eggshells and drawers of used packaging, assemblages of bone parts and discarded tea bags. I found it fascinating.

Jonathan and I got talking and while rummaging through his space we came across a box the artist had acquired some years ago. Jonathan passed this box onto me and so it was that ‘Memories I No Longer Need’ came to be an artwork included in the current exhibition I am curating, ‘Relics of Attachment Part II’.
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This chance meeting led to another string to the Relics bow. Jonathan and I arranged for Pete Kinnear and himself to conduct a discussion to accompany the exhibition.

This took the form of a conversation and unpacking of the box between Jonathon Baxter and the original owner of the box and its contents,
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The title the box was given when it became an artwork was ‘Memories I No Longer Need’ with the description attached, “an exchange of archives from Pete Kinnear to Jonathan Baxter, from Jonathan Baxter to Rachael Disbury, from Rachael Disbury to Relics of Attachment.”

The conversation was attended by 23 artists. It became a very animated hour or so. A particularly fond moment involved Pete unpacking a ball of twine from the box. Jonathan attached this to his coffee mug and threw it into the audience. Within 5 minutes the entire audience was intertwined.

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Huge thanks are due to Jonathan and Pete for providing a very enjoyable afternoon. I am very proud of all the time and energy invested in the Relics of Attachment project.

 

The ‘Click’

I often talk about waiting for the ‘click’. That moment when it suddenly becomes apparent that you’re on to something. I think today I realised, it already clicked. While talking about my progress in our group crit, it came to me that I actually have a lot going on at the moment. There are three things I’m working on right now, and I feel they’re all about to take off.

A lot of the work is a continuation of my process from last year, perhaps this is why I missed the ‘click’, because it had already been. I was very happy with my body of work last semester and I’m enthusiastic about where its going to lead me in 4th year.

I’ve returned to the workshop this week, oh how I’ve missed it. It seems strange thinking back to second year and how intimidated I was the first time I was handed a drill. Now, I could live in that place.

In keeping with my work on the obsessive recording and presenting of nostalgic objects, I’m working with old glasses. I’ve worn glasses for fifteen years now and have accumulated a collection. Having selected seven of these pairs I’m working on a construction that will allow the viewer to perceive an image through the lenses of the glasses I wore between the ages of six and twelve.

I hope to complete it this week. Fingers very crossed.

 

Studio 606

New academic year, new white space. I spent a week last semester painting the walls and scrubbing the floor of 606, in preparation for the previous 4th years degree show, so it’s only fitting I should inherit the studio.

Here it is, my new canvas.

I’ve moved some stuff in now. The addition of some collected objects and a pot of coffee has it suddenly feeling more ‘Rachael’. Last week was a bit lacking in productivity on account of 21st birthday related excitement. It was a fantastic week otherwise though. And following that high I’m now ready to make a start with the semester.

I find it easier to think about my stuff when I isolate and arrange my objects into compositions. Things look better when they’re displayed more formally, objects begin to become artworks when they stop being used for their original purpose, so I spent today putting shelves up and playing.

This is what I do.

I’m not completely consumed by any one idea yet but I have that exciting feeling that I’m onto something.

Things I’m thinking about:

Empty jewellery boxes

Old spectacles

Collecting information

Bananas

Obsessive sentimentality

Hyper recording of data

 

Make of that what you will. There’s a lot of little ideas floating around, I just need to grab and develop them.

 

Two Weeks To Go

The work has been forced to take a backseat over the last couple of weeks due to an ever-nearing essay deadline. I’ve been curling up beside the radiator in the library most days, obsessively colour coding notes and scanning books. I’ve said before, I like essay writing… It just takes a while to get started. I’m hoping to get a big chunk of it written today so I can get back to the fun stuff.

I did manage to start a new piece last week though, and I’m quite pleased with it so far. Continuing with the process of concealing items, I’ve wrapped a shirt in old dictionary pages and contained it in a metal structure. This is a continuation of my focus on the object as a storage vessel for memory. This piece has multiple ways it could go, I’ve not decided on its final presentation yet. Its good having a few ideas though. In fact being in a state of ‘having ideas’ is the best feeling in the world. This might sound like an exaggeration but to me there’s nothing worse than not feeling creatively in tune.

I positioned the piece with a couple of my other objects for this photo. I want to continue work on the binoculars, but separate from the plaster work. Pictured here is also a wrapped up bell, a wrapped up soldiers book and three of my Grandpa’s matches. Make of it what you will.

Side ramble… I love old books. Theres a little charity shop in Musselburgh with stacks and stacks of ageing books. Its a little bit amazing. Perhaps this is an odd fascination? It’s just so nostalgic, the smell and the look and being able to dive into a patchwork library. Nice.

 

Capsules 1, 2 & 3

So the studio module deadline has been met. I find myself a little bit lost and not knowing what to do with myself. The expansive module deadline is pending but we’re not allowed in the studio this week and I therefore seem to have achieved absolutely nothing today. Perhaps I’ll blog about what I have achieved this semester, to provoke a bit of self- motivation.

Some detail on Capsules One, Two and Three.

Capsule One was the last to be filled, and one of the most frustrating. When you can see the end so close, patience starts to wear thin.

The contents of Capsule One include a hanging envelope containing an old pair of  ‘Pince-nez’ spectacles, and on the right, eight envelopes each with a title but containing a blank page. This is meant to comment on the fading memory of events. We can remember an event happened, we know its title and perhaps its date, but in time the images and details of that occasion deteriorate.The content becomes unclear.

Capsule Two is my favourite and the one I had in my head from day one. It incorporates hanging baby teeth, shelves holding1940s pennies and shells washed up on the beach, still intact with both sides able to close. Creeped out yet? The teeth seem to have provoked some surprise.

I think this is a good example of the nature of assemblage. I’m not just ‘shoving things in boxes’. This is a process where composition must be considered as well as colour and placement of shape and form. Just like painting or photography, it is simply another medium to create an image and a reaction.

Capsule Three allowed me to continue the use of bones, as well as layered acetates, and typewriter text. Each box has a border of a page from ‘the Book of Knowledge’ in it. The boxes were originally motivated by the jumble of subject matter found in those old encyclopedias I acquitred back in Summer.

The small glass contains some preserved, pressed fuchsias. They are so fragile. Everytime I dropped one and tried to pick it up it would just tear in my hands. The old bones, small glass and dried fuchsias continue this representation of the fragility of memory.

As well as each having the border of encyclopedia pages, each is also uniform in the addition of a small light at the top of each capsule. This is to strengthen the concept of these being display cases, they are lit to present the objects more formally. I like the uniformity of the exterior of these boxes, and the consistencies throughout. They are tied together as a series, thus the random objects used have been associated together to create a new context. Hurrah.

 

Berries (and the underside of my shoe).

It’s good to take a little detour sometimes. This week I’ve been taking some timeouts between projects to get experimental. Basically this is me just finding a bit of recreation between tasks. It does tie in with the Undiscovered Landscape though. The essence of it? I’ve been squishing berries.

Having admitted to myself that I really don’t want to use leaves and typically outdoorsy materials, its a bit contradictory that I’m now using berries. But their bright colour seem to separate them from the typical. The red and the way they ooze kind of reminds me of those gross mushrooms I saw on the field trip we took at the start of this module.

Originally I wanted to make strings of these beads and hang them in the small space in my wardrobe to echo the vertical lines of tall forest trees tightly packed. But that didn’t look great. So I took them out and stood all over them.

Which was therapeutic in a way, destroying an artwork that didn’t work, and thereby making another piece. Having spent a few hours threading them together and not being happy with the result, it felt surprisingly good to destroy them.

   

  

This berry tangent was really just something to do inbetween things. It’s good to sit and think and sometimes its good to sit, think and do. Ideas come when theres a focus, even if the focus is on something seemingly unrelated.

I think I might incorporate berries on the floor in my Landscape project. Its satisfying to squish them and would incorporate the idea of making an imprint on surroundings. Instead of having things in my wardrobe I think I’ll keep it mostly empty to maintain the solitude of a small space. I have an idea to place my wardrobe within another small space within the studio. This comments on comfort in small spaces (I like to sit in my wardrobe, yeah I’m weird). Perhaps I could create a kind of chaos outwith the wardrobe to highlight the space within. I’m not very sure but I feel I’m getting there.

 

Eh?!

I think this must be the first time I’ve ever finished an art piece before the deadline – two weeks before the deadline. Which confuses me. But I really do think I’ve taken it as far as I can for this brief. Hmm.

So I have three of these constructed cases with the inserts I’ve made and collected for them, plus a little sketchbook/photobook showing the process and outcome.  There’s a lot of work put into each case as well. And I feel I was quite resourceful, I’ve spent hours hacking up old wire coathangers, photocopying scraps of books and attaching hinges onto photo frames. Yep, I think that’ll do.

I’m pretty happy. And now I can relax for two weeks and enjoy my return to Dundee and the start of 3rd year. The prospect of 3rd year is frightening. But I’m just gonna dive in and make it work. Because it has to.

I’ll leave with mah bones 🙂 Got some pretty nice close ups of the detail on this project. There is some intricate stuff going on inside each case.

They Liked It?!

I guess its normal for an artist to worry about the quality of their work. In a field that’s so subjective, exam time can be very stressful, there’s no right or wrong answer, you’re just expected to impress. I get a little crazy, allowing myself to be consumed by this fear of what people will think of my work. However, after the Semester 2 feedback meeting I feel like I should chill out and have more faith in my work. I walked into Arthur’s office on Tuesday to hear positive comments about my installation and encouraging advice for 3rd year. Why was I so scared? They liked my work and they gave me a B1 for it. I sound a bit braggy now don’t I?! Ohwell, 3rd year Rachael will be confident and driven…you’ll see!

Heres some snaps from my final installation and accompanying work. It ended up that the  box itself was not the main piece, but a means for other work to develop. A more ‘final’ result of the project was a series of photographs taken from the setup. I like doing work that has multiple elements to it, this semester I managed to incorporate installation with projection, painting, photography and some collage. 2nd year in general has been pretty swell.


I feel kind of sad saying ‘Goodbye’ to second year. I think I’ve developed more of a style this year with my art, and so much seems to have happened in such a small space of time. 3rd year seems a bit daunting but I’m up to the challenge and I have this unusually positive feeling that it can only get better if I really set my mind to it. Bring on the summer project…

I Made A Box

This seems to be becoming a bit of a habit of mine. I make little isolated spaces, and hide in them for hours on end. Although this box has a different meaning than the relaxation of the last one I made. And here comes the arty bit…

My concept is about being watched. We’re constantly being recorded, shown on tv screens, within the edges of a photograph, writtin in the pages of books. Taking personality and isolating it in a framed structure for others to observe. The box acts as the framework in which people are isolated in. Hence the mirrors. There are going to be several mirrors within the box, some cracked and smashed, therefore the image when looking into it will be distorted. This manipulation of image suggests the unreliability of this type of observation, the image is never going to be complete or have all the parts to show the whole truth.

Very wordy isn’t it? For something so simple as mirrors in a box. I used to hate conceptual art so I won’t be surprised if some see this assigning of ideas to found objects as crap. To me, this means something though.

This is just a picture of the basic framework, today I covered the sides with black fabric…and hid in it…for a while.

We also had a group crit today. This is basically when roughly ten art students gather with a couple of tutors and circulate the studios discussing each others work. It can be very beneficial, hearing other peoples input and opinions on your work and seeing how they’ve progressed in their own practice. However, I of course go bright red when confronted with talking to more than five people in a slightly less than casual situation, so that gets a bit awkward. I managed though. Something that I found quite amusing was Jon Blackwood’s comment on my work. He’s our art history lecturer and appeared to see right through me.

“So it’s not really about surveillance is it? Its about self-image?”

I mean he’s right. It’s more about the idea of being watched…perception and inability to see the full image of someone. But it felt odd the way he said it, as if he’d looked at my work, plus my embarassed red face from public speaking, and deduced that the piece was infact based on my own self-conscious state and the worry of how others percieve me. I guess it is.

I want people to be able to interact with this piece, to go inside it and spend time. I actually got a bit disorientated earlier when the mirrors were at certain angles, its cool the tricks they can play. The mirrors add a kind of awkwardness to sitting in there, it hard to escape your own image and you’re kind of forced to confront it. The black fabric makes it really excluded from the rest of the studio as well, so really it’s just you and all these versions of yourself in a tiny space.

I want to try and get people in it to sit for a while, I’d like some photos of various people within it, to see different reactions. I sat in there for a while, just writing, I might try to encourage that too, see what different people come up with. Oh the possibilities of a self-directed brief…

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Now playing: Lauren O’Connell – Things I Panic About
via FoxyTunes

 

Thursday

Time is funny. Where did October go? I don’t know how many days it is til Christmas but its very soon. Which is scary scary. But also fun! Cause it means things like the coca-cola advert (which I havent actually seen yet) and the Christmas menu at Starbucks (which I’ve definately sampled). Its strange how little things can brighten up your day. Something as simple as a Toffee Nut Latte can make you happy and excited about Christmas. Thank you Starbucks.

Project is going well. Basically I’ve made a life-size box in the middle of the studio. I’ll sit in it for the next two weeks, basically hiding away in it, collaging, painting and working into it as if the four inside surfaces are my canvas. I’m looking forward to it. Also going to be working on making a film on Monday, so I can project something onto one of the walls. I’ve never really worked with digital media so the whole things a bit daunting.

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Now playing: Belle & Sebastian – Waiting For The Moon To Rise
via FoxyTunes