Lockdown week 46

Spring is trying intermittently


I dropped in late Friday afternoon to the School of Art online Teams Printgang, but when I arrived it was quiet, quiet, quiet. Everybody’s heads were down focussed on the work before them.  I did not want to interrupt their concentration and left the meeting and emailed one of the participants.  She answered my query, but encouraged me to return to the printgang, which I did and recognised that master printmaker J Sanders was not at home, but in the school of art printroom. This is a major development and confirmed that students of art can book a working space with a technician at hand to work in socially distanced safety.  

I spent an hour or so with the gang as we caught up on our isolation experiences with much warmth and shared laughter at our ongoing situations.  I had not been aware of the possible printroom bookings and was at first excited to take up the opportunity, but realised I have sunk into a lockdown state of mind where: ‘its home or the studio; reading, writing research or digital making and communications’.  It had not occurred to me recently, that I might return to the tactile creativity of the silkscreen press.  My mindset is not there at the moment as lockdown is still in psychological as well as governmental place, even though there are moves to relax the restrictions. The knowledge that it may be possible to venture into the city centre raises the pulse rate, but tinged with doubts about making the break from lockdown, while the virus is still circulating. Rather than consider going through the covid test regime of entering the university, one of the printagang is taking up a ticket home to see their family in Bulgaria to spend the summer with them, and make her artwork in less restricted surroundings. We talked about the potential for physical exhibition of our work that has been shared over the last 10 months, culminating in the online printmaking book submitted to the IMPACT 11 conference. We will look forward to attending the international online conference out of Hong Kong Printshop. Fingers crossed the constitutional changes in the province are not oppressing the arts to make this impossible.

Video conferencing engagement

Earlier in the week there was a two-hour online session for BCU MA Art students on the role of ethics in contemporary arts.  I had prepared a paper, and printed it out as per a regular presentation in front of an audience. I had provided a small number of images on links to be viewed by students before the lecture. With over 30 participants following an in-depth lecture on the fundamentals of philosophy and ethics by Dr Catherine Baker, and an interactive response through online ‘padlets’ in 5 groups, I tried to introduce my lecture in a relaxed manner.  However, as I began on my own, looking at a computer screen with no audience eye contact, a sense of disconnection overtook me and I hesitated, but there was nothing to do, but read on into the void. 


Following a link from previous BCU MA sessions I opened: Heba Y. Amin’s current exhibition: When I see the future, I close my eyes and Heba Y. Amin and Anthony Downey’s launch of their new book ‘The General’s Stork’ (Sternberg Press, 2020). Amin’s project which is now on display as part of her new exhibition is on at The Mosaic Rooms.

Heba Y. Amin and General’s Stork (2020)

As well as the show and an illuminating presentation by ‘Heba Y Amin on Birds > aircraft > drones there is a link to a wide ranging interview with Anthony Downey that develops her perspectives and views on ‘Techno aesthetics, drone gaze and algorithmic determination’. She  states that culture is a space for debate that mainstream media or academic literature omits. Some subjects may be impenetrable, but art and artists can open them to question through engaging and performative artwork. (44 mins in). She notes that images can be intriguing and assertive: as is her photographic image of the General’s Stork, where the stork is defined in black and white from the pink surrounds. ‘The intriguing image encourages the viewer to be pulled in and to ask questions. We’ve become so accustomed to media narratives and numb to questioning in ways that are really meaningful.’ 

Print and Tools

Continuing with Jim Dine’s prints of hand tools and the inspiration to visualise the 2000-21 tool equivalents, I am experimenting with sketches of the small metal removable hard disk boxes. Sketches are made using photographs of 5 hard disc containers and transferring to the Procreate app on an iPad to add hand digital drawing. Two achieve this aim I have been learning Procreate selection skills to isolate backgrounds which can be filled with the hand drawn marks, in contrast to the hi-tech data storing boxes and their dark thick twisting cables. Once the technicalities are mastered the juxtaposition of image and marks can be assessed. The hope being that the contrasting contemporary concept I am pursuing will be effective visually.

Lest we forget

September 17th. Digbeth, Birmingham UK

covid update

21 million UK Vaccines given

Thats it

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