Study visit Aspirations, Les Monoghan, D.A.R.T.S, Doncaster 21.02.201

I attended the study day at D.A.R.T.S in Doncaster because I was intrigued by the idea of exploring what aspirations others have for their lives.  I began my studies last year at the age of 54, it had been an ambition of mine to study textiles since I was 14. It only took me 40 years to sort myself out. The exhibition was made up of hundreds of photographs that Les Monoghan had taken of young people, sat next to a parent or carer, the question of ‘what would you like to be’ posed and the replies printed below each person. Monoghan wanted to inquire a number of questions;

How does your upbringing affect your chances in life?

How important are family, education, environment, location, culture, media, society and other factors in helping or hindering the prospects of people today?

How have these values increased and diminished over time?

When faced with the portrait of another person what can we glean from the image they have projected, filtered as it always is, by the choices of the artist?

The images were grouped around the gallery the common factor of the aspiration of those photographed being the means of separation from the rest. This allowed the instant recognition of what were popular choices and the most represented gender. The images were all staged the same, two chairs side, by side and the room were seated visible behind. it allowed the viewer to satisfy their own questions by searching the scene for clues as to why the may have chosen such replies. it also asked the question of why the adults hadn’t pursued their aspired path. Only a small percentage had.

I was the only textile student the rest of the group were photography students looking for answers as to what they should be producing with their work, hoe to present their work and also what was involved in gathering the images and what does it take to put on such an exhibition? We all were intrigued by the  hidden narrative behind the images and if Monaghan had answered his questions? it was the reaction to the images that actually held our attention and also dictated the whole session. His images had captivated our thoughts. I gained so much from the visit from the aspect that I was involved in researching my family history and, was learning about the lives and careers of my Great Grandparents. I was able to wonder what their aspirations were. I had photographs of my maternal and paternal great Grandparents and I could imagine their likeness up on the wall with Monoghan’s images. What would be beneath their faces? I also reflected on my own circumstances coming to study 40 years after my initial wish was spoken. At 14 I would have answered textile artist. The years between have been filled with many jobs, some satisfying and some soul-destroying. The gap between the realisation of who I wanted to be and my beginning studying has I feel, made the journey now far more valuable and gratifying.

One of the paragraphs that is included with the pre-study day info’  is under the title ‘The hopefully reassuring bit’, where it is noted that many students feel nervous about going on study visits. I was a trifle nervous, more to do with my being unable to discuss on the same intellectual level as my fellow students. In all I loved the study visit as I found a shared passion for art with my fellow students. I would recommend highly anyone attending such a day even if it’s not advertised as your subject. I see any gallery visit as appropriate for any subject studied. It is interesting and fascinating to hear what motivated an artist to investing their time producing their work. I also found it interesting listening to the photography students discussing their own work and also looking for answers about their own passion. I will not hesitate to attend any study day in the future.



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