One of the modules that you will have to respond to this year will be the PPP one. Whether you are at level 4, 5 or 6 this module runs right through the course. One aspect of this is a reflection on possible opportunities to advance your career by exhibiting. Visiting local exhibitions can be a great way to develop documentary evidence of this. For instance Karolina Szymkiewicz’s exhibition "Pandora's Box" opened this Thursday at Union105 (105 Chapeltown Road, LS7 3HY, Leeds) and is open until the 5th Oct. My first observation is a basic one, I went to the opening and not one student from LCA attended. I know it was first week back, but there was free wine. I presume everyone has a LVAF account, if not you should have one. Go to http://www.lvaf.org.uk I do realise they send out lots of information that might not be directly relevant but they do advertise most of the openings that take place in the area and openings are free and usually drinks and free nibbles are also available. The drinks of course are incidental, what is more important is how an opening or visit to a small exhibition can add to your professional development.
Karolina Szymkiewicz: Pencil Drawing
Small openings are good networking events. (I know some of you will cringe at the mention of the word, but getting to know others in the arts community is vital if you are to become aware of opportunities). Because there won’t be so many people there, it is more likely people will talk to you and conversations can lead anywhere. Small exhibitions are usually in peripheral spaces and so are usually full of artists just entering the profession or artists looking for new spaces to exhibit in. Therefore the situation is one you may well find yourself in, in the very near future. It’s a great opportunity to ask whoever is showing how they made contact with the gallery space, find out what were the issues about showing there and try and think through how you would have used the same space.
Union105 is an East Street Arts space. It has artists studios above the gallery and because it is based in Chapeltown it has also been trying to develop some community outreach work and last year they ran a series of community workshops alongside several of the exhibitions that took place.
The show on at the moment has a local connection. The Northern School of Contemporary Dance is almost directly over the road from the gallery and the drawings on display were done as part of a larger project involving the interaction between artists and dancers. The show itself consists of prints done from drawings.
As you can see from the image above, the drawings are figurative and done by an artist with a strong background in academic drawing. The artist Karolina Szymkiewicz was trained in Poland (See http://www.karolfulillustration.com/fine-art/ ) and now works in Leeds and has a practice that operates between illustration and fine art. During the opening I was able to have a conversation with her about the fine art/illustration issue and she is struggling with this divide herself. She feels that because of the skills involved in what she does she is almost always categorized as an illustrator but she wants to develop a career as a fine artist as well. This could be a very interesting area to unpick as part of your PPP reflection, because the boundaries between disciplines can slip and people starting off on one side of the divide can move that barrier and find themselves firmly on the other side. For instance if you look at Warhol’s career, he moved from being an illustrator to one of the fine art world's key figures.
My last post was a reflection on the life room tradition and the work on show is what it is because of the continuing practice of academic drawing within Eastern European art schools. This itself poses questions as to the nature of art education and what should be taught. I’m sure you will have your own thoughts on this.
Then there is the issue of how work is displayed. A reflection on this each time you go to an exhibition is important, you really need to develop a clear idea of how to hang work, especially drawings because the difference between one hanging method and another changes the whole ‘read’ of the work.
In this case the images were hung from their top edge by a white wooden batten, (see image below). By doing this the artist moves the emphasis onto the paper as object and away from the idea of the drawing as illusion; this perhaps reflecting the fact that the artist is trying to break into new areas of representation, her images now moving between the two languages of tonal and line drawing. I wasn’t too sure this was right, but I could see the reasoning behind it.
Whatever you might think of the actual work, as you can see the exhibition raises issues and as students you need to construct a professional engagement with whatever is happening in the art world, not to praise it or dam it but simply to become aware of possibilities and to help yourself with future decision making.
Don't forget there is a joint opening this coming week at the Leeds City Art Gallery, Thursday 6 till 8
Shezad Dawood and Elín Jakobsdóttir, in particular Jakobsdóttir is showing drawings. If you are going to the first Thursday evening life drawing class, we will be going to the opening once the session finishes.