Category Archives: Study days

Study day – Whitworth Gallery, Manchester. 26 April 2015.

I was keen to attend this study day as I had enjoyed and benefited greatly from the other study days I had attended. I was also hoping to see some of Cornelia Parkers exhibition, though the itinerary for the day looked pretty tight, so I wasn’t sure I’d see much. As it happened we had the free rein to explore the gallery in the morning, so after a quick look around the gallery I found Parker’s, exhibits. I wanted to see if she had included any of her ‘Pornographic drawings’ as I was referencing them in the Exploring ideas course. The first thing my eyes focussed on was indeed one of those images. Pornographic drawings are prints made using confiscated pornographic films given by H.M Customs, mixed with chemicals which melt the celluloid film into a substance Parker then make prints with. She used the method that produces images in the manner of Rorschach psychological ink blots.

pornographic drawings

pornographic drawings

I am a great fan of Parkers work, only discovering her work since I began studying with the OCA. In all I spent 3 hours with her exhibition and found it immensely interesting, inspiring and also I found confidence to pursue my idea of printing using blood. in fact Parker had used her own blood in producing her ‘self portrait’ images which consisted of four images, one square, one circle, one triangle and one single line drawn with blood.

self protraits

self portraits

I cannot say there was one exhibit that I didn’t find fascinating or inspiring in Parkers’ exhibition, nor was there one that I had a preference for. I do find her method of taking one item and through changing it to create another, working in an al-chemical method was most fascinating.

exhaled coke

exhaled coke




bullet drawing

bullet drawing





Other pieces were embroidered texts which are similar in execution to the Magna Carta piece that is on show at the moment at the British Library, London. A link to an article about the Magna Carta embroidery is available  HERE

In all I have taken away many things from this exhibition namely, an enthusiasm to push myself to work with a variety of materials, that I can and wish to work with large-scale pieces and most importantly for me that ‘samples’ are valid and valuable as pieces. Most of the works in Parkers’ exhibition were titled as being samples and this struck me like a bolt out of the blue. I have always considered samples as being the poor relation, and often necessary evil on the road to producing a piece. I now see them as items of beauty and considerable value.

The afternoon of the study visit was spent in the study room looking at archived work from a range of artists. We were able to handle them, photograph and enjoy them at close hand, discussing the pieces with other students was a fabulous opportunity to explore what each saw and discuss of how they were made. In doing this I felt we actually got more from seeing them than if we were individuals viewing. We all had a starting point which was usually a familiar practice in our own making, which when in conversation with others we found and understood far more about the piece.

An additional bonus to me was the glancing of a name next to a set of drawers. I recognised in passing Anish Kapoor, a favourite artist of mine and again someone I have referenced in my work on part 2 of the Exploring ideas course. As I got to look through the drawers which contained numerous works of his I came across the piece I referenced. The image isn’t the best but given the lighting it was the best I could do. I was star struck at seeing an actual piece of art by Kapoor so even in its shadow ridden state this image is very special to me.





Study visit, Tabitha Moses, Investment, Walker Gallery, Liverpool 14.03.2015

The study visit was held in my favourite gallery in the world, which in itself was a good enough reason to go, the joy of listening to Tabitha’s story and the reason behind her works was the cherry on the cake. The exhibition held 3 photographs, one of herself and one each of the two women whose stories she also told, plus three medical gowns lain in glass cases, one for each woman. The gowns in the cases looked as though they were peacefully asleep or at rest. Each gown Moses had embroidered symbols that told each woman’s story with infertility and I.V.F treatment. There were known symbols such as Romulus and Remus, thermometers, pregnancy testing kits, voodoo dolls,  all together mixing science with mythology, showing the womens need to employ any tool and method of belief that brought auspicious tidings of a soon to come pregnancy. The photographs show pain, loss, and unspoken emotions of their own journey towards Motherhood. To write about the work is difficult to express  fully gamut of emotions one feels when spending time looking at the gowns as well as listening to the stories. I have experience of working with couples who are having problems conceiving and carrying a baby to full term. I worked as a complementary therapist and apart from the practical aspects of my work, the need to help the couples love and not blame themselves is as important as any other support. The space between the words spoke volumes.

Moses stitches are tiny and so neat and uniform they look machined. I liked the gowns, how they had been worked and what they represented. I acknowledged that the symbols – before Moses explained them left you wondering what they meant, to me this represented the unknowing of someone who has been fortunate enough not to have this experience in their lives. it also spoke of the thoughts that they daren’t put into words or express just in-case it jinxed their plight. the added joy of this study visit was the appearance at the end of our time with Moses of her husband and her daughter Gilder. Moses was successful in the last round of I.V.F and the jewel of a child, just over 1-year-old was testament to the tenacity and hoping that had gone on before.

I saw some parallels in the exhibition to what I had been hoping to do with the part 1 of exploring ideas I had just completed. I too had looked to tell a story of a womans journey through troubled times using symbols. In my conceptual piece  I had darned over the face of an images that represented times in Helena’s life where I am sure she wished to never speak of acknowledge or remember. I started to feel more confident about the work. I had been troubled by it as it was a departure from what I would ordinary do plus, I felt that I hadn’t done much work simply because I had only darned a section of the piece and not taken lots of time embroidering. It did take me many hours sampling and developing the idea. I did talk about my concerns about the work to Annabel the tutor who was hosting the study day, and she also made me feel more confident with what I had done. She thought it sounded like a strong conceptual exhibition. I shall await my tutors report before I am able to settle my mind about it. the study visit was definitely useful from many perspectives as it had helped me look at my own work and value it, it enabled me to see parallels to how I work and how a professional artist works, and it also led me to a greater understanding of how symbols can be obvious as to their meaning but even if not, they still have gravity of meaning simply by the questions they pose to the viewer.

A link to Tabitha Moses website is below and on there are images from this exhibition as well as past exhibitions.

One of the past exhibitions Tabitha has done is Untitled arms,in which she has used human bones and built a limb around it using cotton fabric, sawdust, human humerus bone, various threads, hand embroidery. this resonates with me since I had spent much time researching my great-grandfather who was an inventor of artificial limbs. I had wondered how I could interpret his story in some way. Whilst Tabitha had produced something I don’t think would have illustrated my story, I do like the way she has handled these materials.


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.