This blog is written as part of my studies on the Falmouth University photography ma, an accredited educational programme.

Seeing ourselves – women’s self portraits

I have re-shared the below blog post from a year ago where I wrote about the Frances Borzello book ‘Seeing Ourselves’ – womens self portraits , as I revisit the book again for the writing of my CRoP.

On first looking one could wonder why I would even be talking about self portraits, after all I do not ‘feature’ in anything but two of the images out of thousands I have taken over the last two years. However, instead I argue I have been present in every single one of them. When I photographed my own family, I was undoubtedly there, woven into every image like an invisible thread. When I photographed the 18 families for Heuristic spaces, I am there represented in the mothers portraits I took , showing the freedom, the passion for what we do, the love for our children, the unbelievable hard work that is put in by the parents to achieve this lifestyle.

Every time someone questions me on self portraits I am reminded of the section in Borzello’s book where she talks about absent self portraits that the female artists of the past took and how they represented themselves, their lives, their art, their hopes and dreams in their art, without there being so much as a single physical trace of them within the scene. This is what I have achieved in my project, reminding me very much of a quote from one of the very first books I read on the MA, Susan Bright’s ‘Home Truths’ where she says “So where is the ‘mother’ in all of this. In a way she is dissolved.” (Bright Pg 23)

The below is reposted from my crj post on 02.04.20

Over the last few weeks of this module I have been reading Frances’ Borello’s book below, Seeing ourselves, women’s self portraits, as a way of both historically and philosophically informing my work, and also to help locate my practice further across not just contemporary work being made my photographers today, but across a long history of female artists presenting themselves , their lives and their practices through art.

Although the book primarily focuses on the traditional view of a self portrait, which is not at first glance where my practice lies, I found it’s contents so engaging and informative that I devoured it from cover to cover, whereas with some books this module I have had to focus on just reading the opening introduction to give me a broad overview of the work or theories engaged in in the book. This book however, was full of not just facts but real life narratives of how women have gone about producing art for centuries, and I found it engaging from start to finish. Borzello has written it in a really easy to follow and engaging way. I have also found that I am finding it much easier to read and understand academic books anyway after all the reading this module, so I do think it is a little bit of both, I am finding it easier, and it was written in a much more accessible way.

I found the sections on artists that have created self portraits of themselves at work in their studios the most relevant to my practice visually, but philosophically there were so many artists and their works that I aligned with. It’s hard not to see the strength of this book as an almost visual feminist manifesto, that these women have been presenting themselves and their art to the world in an at many times revolutionary and unheard of or unseen way, that is something that inspires me in my practice , as I believe firmly no-one has done what I am doing. They may of attempted variations of it , parts or small parcels of it, but my wider research during the MA is a huge body of work , that has never been attempted, and I believe has the potential to be revolutionary to certain people.

I have collated the quotes and work below that I felt resonated with me and my work most strongly .

Week 10 Seeing ourselves - women's self portraits 02.04.20
Week 10 Seeing ourselves – women’s self portraits 02.04.20

All quotes (Borzello; 2018)

“While it would be ridiculous to deny that men have dominated the field of self-portraiture, just as they have dominated the artistic profession , this history has hidden the fact that women have been there all along, thinking as hard as the men about how to reprisent themselves in paintings.” (pg 25)

“These are not themes that should be categorised as ‘feminine’ or ‘womanly’, but rather as subjects that relate to women’s experiences as they juggle the plates marked ‘artist’ and ‘woman’ , trying to keep both spinning in the air at the same time.” (pg 38)

Fig 1, Marie Nicole Dumont, The artist at her occupation. c 1789
Fig 1, Marie Nicole Dumont, The artist at her occupation. c 1789
fig 2, mary ellen best the artist in her painting room
fig 2, mary ellen best the artist in her painting room

“Watercolour Artist Mary Ellen Best pictures herself at working her painting room at her mothers house in York. “

“its at her easel”

“Next to the window in order to catch the light.”

“her prints and sketchbooks are on the far side of the room. Best is an early example of a woman painter who uses her watercolours to document her life as others use a journal.”

“Her practice of mounting her personal work into albums was a forerunner of the family photograph album.” (pg 121)

***

(in reference to Louisa Paris.) “The originality of her four hundred watercolours lies in their completeness as an overview of a middle-class ladies life and travels. she includes herself in the pictures, a practice lost when photography took over visual record keeping before her marriage in 1840 . ” “two years later she holds her new baby while her toddler son takes his first steps in a doorway. In 1846 she sits with her husband at breakfast., while the children, now numbering three, are tended by the nursemaid.”

“Louisa Paris kept a watercolour record of the places where she stayed with her family int he south of England . In one of them she paints her own traces, the sketching tool, pallet, and parasol abandoned on the South Downs she did not know it but she was fitting into a tradition of absent self portraits.” (pg 122)

****

“Photographing oneself is the closest one can get to trapping the image that looks back from the mirror. It is painting without the element of time, decision making, or labour.” (pg 137)

Fig 3, John, Gwen. 1907-9. A corner of te artists room in Paris
Fig 3, John, Gwen. 1907-9. A corner of te artists room in Paris

“A room of one’s own. A twentieth century development o female self portraiture is the painting of the artists room, evidence of the importance of their own space to these women artists. A room of one’s own , Virginia Woold’s ” “published 1929” “visual evidence of it’s application” “in 1900 when Emeilie Charmy painted the first of her several ‘self-portraits’ of the rooms she worked in.” (pg 142/143)

“It is the nature of accounts like this to concentrate on change and advance, but, despite improved access to education, women were still hampered by patronising attitudes towards their talent, sticking power and rightful place, and had to be more determines than men if they wanted to follow an artistic career.” (pg 142)

***

“Children are no longer presented as adjuncts to the artist, as assistants (Mary Beale) or accessories (Elisabeth Vigee- Lebrun). The twentieth century brings respect for children – and respect for children’s art.

“Jean cooke ” “Self portrait in 1958 (Tate Britain), her son.” “toddled to the easel, picked up her brushes and added his own marks to his mothers painting. Rather than remove them, Cooke incorporated them into the final work.” (Pg 168)

***

“Neel” “believed that art is a form of history, and wanted to capture the era as well as the individual in her portraits.” (pg 173)

“Bolstered by the belief that the personal is political, women artists sat down to create art that expressed their feelings as women artists in a mans world, as women in a man’s world, and just as women.” (pg 184)

“The blurring between self portraiture and the art of ideas is a new extension of self-portraiture, As we have seen, women have always managed to get their concerns into their self portraits – consider Angelica Kauffman’s belt clasp with its male-female battle for supremacy. But these feminist artists are different in their willingness to put themselves to use in the service of a wider argument.” (pg 197)

“Although Emin’s work is autobiographical, she notes, ‘it goes beyond that. I start with myself and end up with the universe.” “Asked whether art had a part to play in society, she replies, ‘It should have, but it doesn’t. I think the problem is that artists are too content with making things that look nice. There should be something revolutionary about it. It should be totally new and creative, and it should open up doors for new thoughts and new experiences.” (Emin in Borzello pg 221)

“The variety of female self-portraits gives the lie tot he long-held conviction that women, whilst brilliant copyists, had no originality. Expected to fit in with what-ever contemporary notions of femininity held sway, they nonetheless managed to come up with striking images that boasted of their talent, spoke of their beliefs and displayed their grasp of the standards of the day.”(pg 232)

“The traditional self-portrait will survive, of course, and continue to fascinate as we try to see behind the eyes for clues to the secrets of it’s creator. But it will be joined by ever-more exciting images made as instillations, videos and whatever other form women choose to express their complexities of being female artists.” (pg 232)

***

REFERENCES

BOOKS

Borzello, Frances. 2018. seeing ourselves, women’s self portraits. London ; Thames & Hudson.

WEBSITES

The monstrous regiment of women. September 2018. Marie-Nicole Dumont: The Woman Artist in Eighteenth-Century France Available at https://www.monstrousregimentofwomen.com/2018/09/marie-nicole-dumont-woman-artist-in.html  (accessed 02.04.2020)

Hubbard, Sue. 06.03.2009.  Great Works: A Corner Of The Artist’s Room In Paris (With Open Window)(1907-1909), Gwen John Available at https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/great-works/great-works-a-corner-of-the-artists-room-in-paris-with-open-window1907-1909-gwen-john-1638161.html (accessed 02.04.2020)

FIGURES

Fig 1, Marie Nicole Dumont, The artist at her occupation. c 1789

Fig 2, mary ellen best the artist in her painting room

Fig 3, John, Gwen. 1907-9. A corner of te artists room in Paris

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

CONTEXTUAL RESEARCH : Laia Abril

The top parts of this CRJ post are written 16.04.2021, whilst the bottom two are from 2019.

**********************************************************************

I accidentally came to Abril’s work when I saw her ‘On abortion’ exhibition as part of the Deutsche Borse photography foundation prize at the photographers gallery in 2019 . I wrote about this in the blog post below. 

This was my first introduction to Abril’s work, and I connected with it straight away. The connection between my pre-MA birth work and advocacy, with female rights being at the core of my work was strong. I also connected straight away to what I now recognise as both the multimedia aspects of the work as well as the research methods that dig right down deep into the issues of what is happening with it’s subject, how that effects people, communities, and wider society in general. In addition this method of research giving a voice to the community you are representing , rather than simply speaking for them, as discussed by Mariama Attah in her SPBH talk ‘Contemporary photography and activism’  .

I came to later utilise similar methods of research in my own work, whilst ebing acutely aware that I still have so much further to go before I get to where I want to be in my level and depth of research , I continue to reference Abril’s work in my own, and look to her research methods to help inform my own work as well, recently having a portfolio review with Abril where we discussed my project in depth, it’s research methods and it’s potential for book publication.

***

Media in many forms have informed, contextualised and underpinned my work throughout the MA. I was especially drawn to the end pages of Abril’s book, showing newspaper adverts for abortionists who would ‘hide’ their services in plain sight for women who needed them. The two end papers representing both the adverts of the past below at the front, and the modern day ones, showing how little has changed, at the back. 

I ended up utilising more audio / film media in my work than newspaper articles, however I have lots of ideas for how to include these in the project going forward after the MA. One is to collate every article I can find since the 

Abril, Laia. 2018. On abortion, Dewi Lewis. London. 

The below page includes image, quote and interview with rebecca gomperts, a dutch dr offering abortions to women in their first trimester on the boat in international waters. There is a seamless jump from personal story, to facts and figures, to law and legislation here on this spread that keeps the reader engage, gives them the most pertinent information backed up with facts but with the quotes and image keeps it ‘light’ enough to oddly be simultaneously detached and moved by what you are reading. The image of the boat on the water could be a postcard photo or holiday brochure image, which is used as a tool to highlight the horror of what is happening to these women, and the extremes to what they have to go to try and access abortions. 

Abril, Laia. 2018. On abortion, Dewi Lewis. London.

 

The below spread is one of the many case studies included in the book. Some are presented with images of the women, whilst some the women retain their anonymity through blurring and pixelating of the images. This particular one outlines the first hand story of a woman in Poland who underwent an abortion at home through obtaining arthritis pills. The open way of talking about it , in her own words, you almost here her saying them. This is what I wish for in my project, for someone to read the words, or hear the audio of the families and feel they are there with them, to have that deep connection to what is on the page or on the gallery wall. 

Abril’s simple photo essay design of double images with quotes under each tell the story in short bite size pieces to be able to digest. This would also work well in gallery format, and is very similar to what I will be presenting at the exhibition in Falmouth art gallery where each images will have a piece of text on home education guidance, quotes from parents, or extracts from media articles/shows on home education.Abril, Laia. 2018. On abortion, Dewi Lewis. London. 

 

THE BELOW POST IS REPOSTED FROM MY CRJ ON 15.11.2019.

Researching photographers : Laia Abril talk RPS Bristol

Yesterday evening I made the three hour drive from Cornwall to RPS Bristol to go to the mini click artist talk with Laia Abril, (hosted by Jack Latham) where she discussed her project A history of Misogyny, chapter one : On abortion , and the repercussions of a lack of access, which was originally created as an exhibition for Arles in 2018 and was then made into an accompanying book. Laia explained there are 4 chapters to a history of Misogyny , chapter 2 : On Rape is currently being exhibited at Paris Photo.

I very nearly didn’t attend this event as not only has the weather been awful the last day or two and I was worried about getting stuck in snow potentially, the A30 has loads of diversions so a 2.5 hr drive took 3.5 , but most importantly, I am becoming acutely aware that time is disappearing to do my oral presentation, and although I have been writing notes on and making audio recordings to go towards my op , I still haven’t actually started it .

However , I decided in the end after RPS promising Laia was still coming, despite the weather to attend, and I am so glad that I did ! Laia Abril On Abortion

**********************************************************************

The below blog post is reposted from my CRJ on 07.06.2019

After we had finished at the V&A we headed over to the Photographers Gallery to view the Laia Abril exhibition “ON ABORTION ” { you can view the book & project here … http://www.laiaabril.com/project/abortion/  } which was part of the {Deutsche Borse photography foundation prize 2019 https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/deutsche-borse-photography-foundation-prize-2019 }.

The exhibition resinated with me on many levels, my birth work at it’s very core is about female rights, a women’s rights to autonomy over her own body and decisions surrounding it. When I applied for the MA I said the following about my birth photography ” In 2012 I fought again…..to be granted access to photograph cesarean deliveries for women in theatre.” This is something, I don’t believe we should have to fight for, we should all be entitled to our memories. Birth photography became about more than the images, it became about women rights, birth rights, advocacy, a mothers voice & her right to be heard.” and this exhibition fit with that narrative perfectly, it is something I feel deeply within my core, that we still need so much to work on in this world, and just like some of the wonderful birth photographers I follow, exhibitions like Laia Abril’s are doing beautiful, sensitive work to bring these issues to the forefront of a culture that has ignored the collective female voice for far too long.

The photographers gallery
The photographers gallery, London.
Laia Abril, "ON ABORTION" Voice mail, Florida, Abortion clinic - clinic staffer , August 28 , 2015 ,
Laia Abril, “ON ABORTION” Voice mail, Florida, Abortion clinic – clinic staffer , August 28 , 2015
Laia Abril, "ON ABORTION" , In labour X-Ray. Atlas Roentgenographic diagnosis of pregnancy & childbirth. Kurt Warnekros X-ray 1921 . Museum of medical history of Catalonia Barcelona.
Laia Abril, “ON ABORTION” , In labour X-Ray. Atlas Roentgenographic diagnosis of pregnancy & childbirth. Kurt Warnekros X-ray 1921 . Museum of medical history of Catalonia Barcelona.

REFERENCES

Abril, Laia. 2018. On abortion, Dewi Lewis. London. 

Self publish be happy, Vimeo. 2021. Contemporary photography and activism with Mariama Attah. Available at https://vimeo.com/spbh (Accessed march 2021)

Abril, Laia. 2019. On abortion exhibition. The photographers gallery. London.

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

fabric wall hangings

I have been designing the wall hangings that are to go in my Falmouth art gallery exhibition in July.

I have decided on 3 , 1.4m x 3.25 m sheer panels at a cost of £126 each.

I decided to go for sheer fabric in the end as a metaphor for the ephemeral , fleeting moments of childhood as these panels will only ‘house’ the images of my own family ‘The Heutagogical Home’ .

These panels are going to hang over the banister in the art gallery, which which have the light from two huge windows shining through it, making the panels somewhat translucent (not entirely as the images are for the most part very dark, so I think the effect will be very subtle) the idea being that the silk will move in the breeze from the doors being open as well as being translucent. This is much more of a nod to parenting than I had originally planned with my own family, however, when I put it up on the wall, it became obvious that this was all it was ever going to be about, about how a home educating parent has to parent differently to parents who’s children are at school.

The panels will consist of

16×12 portrait orientation images

12×8 landscape images

I am ordering from Contrado

Graham, Bekkie. 2021. Contrado

The design for the panels is below.

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

PUBLIC OUTCOME – Falmouth art gallery community workshop

Video 2 – Graham, Bekkie. 2021. You tube video of Falmouth Art Gallery family community workshop.

The above video was recorded on 22.03.2021 and forms part of my final public outcome for my MA submission.

The workshop lasted 1.5 hours and we recorded the 37 mins of it that was me explaining the project and the workshop content, so that other families could join in that were unable to make the live date.

REFERENCES

Fig 1, Graham, Bekkie. 22.03.2021. Screenshot Falmouth art gallery community workshop

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

3D models of exhibition spaces.

With two exhibitions coming up I have decided to have two 3D models of the spaces printed.

The reasonings for this are –

1 ) They will help me with planning the exhibition out myself.

2) They will help with being able to visualise the layout with the curator at Falmouth Art Gallery, and the owner of Bear bookshop.

3) They will be a really good artefact to keep of my first exhibitions, so that I can use them in future work, both in exhibitions, and to inform my choices when curating new exhibitions.

4) I can use them in the future as teaching aids , when working with home educated students interested in a career in the arts when they are older.

I am planning on going back and recreating the first two exhibitions I had during the MA as well. The first being the exhibition in my garden, and the second being the exhibition at the Exchange gallery in penzance as well so that I have a full set of all four exhibitions completed to date. These two will probably be completed after the MA though due to financial restrictions.

***

The first step in this process is to find someone who can do the 3D designs for me, and the second is to find the printer and have them printed.

This morning I have contacted two designers and printers for initial conversations about the process, how it works, time scales for printing and costs involved.

I sent over the below illustrations I downloaded from google of models I had seen that were similar to what I wanted, as well as the google images of Falmouth art galleries space where I will be exhibiting.

Bear bookshop will be a lot simpler than Falmouth art gallery to design, as it is essentially a rectangle, with steps traversing the space horizontally in the middle, as well as the bookcases and counter space.

REFERENCES

Images – Google images, 19.03.2021. 3D architectural models and google images of Falmouth art gallery stair space where I will be exhibiting.

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

Second exhibition

I have been invited to host a second exhibition at Bear Bookshop in Birmingham .

I will be showcasing a range of images from across my three spheres of the project.

I had a zoom yesterday evening with the owner Jenny, and we agreed a focus on the images of children learning in nature, reading and interacting with books would be a good starting point for the exhibition.

Due to Covid and not being able to get to the bookshop I am looking at having a 3d model printed of the exhibition space. Which I write about in more detail here –

Fig 1, Google images Bear Bookshop, Birmingham.

REFERENCES

Fig 1, Google images Bear Bookshop, Birmingham.

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

Falmouth Symposium – Industry crits

Victoria forest –

I showed Victoria ‘Heuristic Spaces’ of the 18 families in Cornwall

It is a photobook / An educative photobook (not a gallerized photobook)

The photos are very meaningful, change the emphasis have less research and and more images. Keep the law in but change the emphasis.

Better way of presenting the legal system?

What is the aim for the book , photobook or educative book, I need to decide as those are tow different edits and approaches.

Publishers to look at – Prestle . Thames and hudson. Check out bookshops and what publishers do educative photobooks .

Typography – No caps. Line Length. (70 characters max) dont have on bottom, only keep at top

Portrait images – have full or half page images

Liked Lisa’s image as a starting image

“It’s a complicated book, so we’re not going to solve it straight away.”

I asked Victoria what she thought of the idea to have two versions of the same book instead, one educative (for researchers/academics/home educators) and one photobook (that is more for the art world and is more visual heavy) . Recommended I create a small Blad 32/64 pages, (or newspaper) and have that as the photographic approach with some text and quotes, to introduction to the project, then send that to publishers/galleries as an ‘overview’ and describe you have lots of research and want to expand the book with them.

Tom Seymour –

I showed Tom both the 18 families and a section of ‘A Heuristic Interlude’

I went to go and see Tom as I wanted his opinion on how best to get my published in the mainstream media and where.

“one thing about pitching to editors is you have to have a really thick skin and you can’t be put off by it. Carry on sending emails out even if you’re ignored”

“First thing to say is I am really impressed by the work, and I’d like to pitch it myself probably”

“The hook is the families that are deciding to home school as a result of the pandemic, I don’t think I’ve read an article about that in the mainstream media at all, I think that would be a really interesting feature to pitch”

“The feature would be the idea as a whole with your photography supporting it.”

“you wouldn’t be taking it to the art desk, youd be taking it to guardian society or the education pages.”

“It’s worth trying to identify national journalists or broadcasters or activists who have been writing about this subject already and trying to make contact with them directly.”

“It’s a really big project you’ve taken on” ….. “Your family, the 18 families is a separate body of work, and heuristic interlude, it’s a big amount of information, and you’ve got all he research you’ve done, it’s a journalist endeavour in addition to photography”

“It’s incredibly impressive what you’ve done”

“Do you want to rely on media institutions to tell this story well?”

*build current audience and media comes to me

*Podcasts (microphone, insulate room, spotify) – interrelating body of work

“You’ve put a lot of work into it obviously, you’re an expert on it, and you obviously care about it.”

“You’re portraiture in this series was really really beautifully composed”

Harry Borden – portrait / paragraph of spoken word as text alongside. (contact 18 families to write about home ed in their own words) .

Films – audio doesn’t need to be perfect. Just create work.

Align with charities/organisations that have links with home-educators.

“I can try and pitch this myself, it’s definitely worth identifying journalists that you think are good at exploring this subject, or that have written about it before.”

Colin Pantal –

I showed Colin my work in progress of my images from sustainable prospects where I made a book of my four children and how covid effected them during the exam closures of 2020.

“It’s talking about you narrating, and it becomes extremely informational , you’re talking about the darkness of it, the one of your two sons on the sofa, really bought that hardness home”

“You’re quite evangelical about homeschooling, and I think it’s a very difficult thing to photograph. “

“This might be too much, and it may need a frame work to simplify it.”

“You’re looking at it from a curricula point of view”

“Visually it’s not terribly diverse, and it’s relatively wealthy, it’s not home-schooling in it’s totality”

“I think the most interesting thing is coming back to the curriculum, where you’re talking about the history of education.” “The culture of education”

Gave a link to a talk about race and colonialism and how blackness has been excluded from the British academy.

“Everything you’ are talking about, the curriculum, central exams, this idea of passing your alevels and getting grade a’s ….. all of these things I think are really interesting.”

“Because it’s not about homeschooling , it’s about one particular type of home schooling”

“It’s not about home-schooling as a whole, it’s about the system of education that values ‘this’ above this’ and where did this come from, and that what you’re talking about all the time.”

*Thought I should join all three projects together and make it about the curriculum .”

“In terms of sharing it, you’ve got beautiful images ….. you’re using the colour , don’t mess with them too much, print them big, frame them as nicely as possible.”

“That picture of your sons on the sofa, that would be the star image “

“Go back and really think, what’s it all about.” Simplify.

“They’re great, it’s good, I like it.”

“What you’re almost about is , it’s that idea of decolonising the curriculum, not necessarily the parts of the curriculum that are colonial but that reinforce particular ways of thinking. Which I think, it’s super interesting”

Sharon Young –

I showed Sharon ‘Heuristic spaces’ and a snippet of ‘A Heuristic Interlude’

“I’m not going to speak too much about your photography because it seems to have it’s own style, it’s own aesthetic, and you’ve worked really well with your participants and you’ve got a real intimacy.”

“You are taking a documentary approach, but also it’s rigorous in it’s research”

“It’s being reflective on the fact you’re trying to represent a method & strategy of home education that isn’t really reflected in the wider national media, or understood in the wider national media, and as part of that demographic , you’re adding to the representation. I wondered if you could work with your network to pitch a film to the BBC “

*look at small production companies

*work as a producer and pitch an idea they may take on

“It could turn into a film”

*Discussed arts council. Consider ‘developing your creative practice grant so you can do a course in film making, they are like to fund that as it’s a specific action point.

John Duncan –

I showed Duncan Heuristic Spaces

“you could see some of these pictures in the guardian weekend magazine”

” Some of them like the empty desk I would be more attracted too, because there are no people in it.”

Discussed what he would edit out for source, their rule of thumb is if something can appear in the guardian it should appear in the guardian and it’s not for them. So they are looking for slightly less editorial images. The breakfast image below is too much of a lifestyle picture

Fig 1, Graham, Bekkie. 2019

“The picture I would like to come back to is the boy in the forest holding the long stick. The ones that are slightly less ambiguous appeal more to me”

[The one of the breakfast on the table] “It’s kind of guardian lifestyle, I am wanting the ones that are using the messiness of Clare’s [Gallagher / second shift]

John shortlisted some ones that he liked that fit ‘Source’ more aesthetically/ethos wise – these were –

“If we were here with a pile of prints I would be wanting got try and maybe sort out the ones that are maybe just not quite so polished and clean as images, and the ones that are slightly more ambiguous , the one of the boy with the stick, the keyboard that looks maybe like it has blood or paint on it.”

Fig 2, Graham Bekkie. 2019. Athene and Arlo – “It’s a more complicated image, and because of that I like it more. The way the rope ladder is dividing the picture there. There’s a bit more going on. For me it’s less …. it maybe a bit more slightly chaotic in terms of the framing , partly the framing, and partly the room itself has got more ‘stuff’ in it. “

*Finds the hand written title offputting and would suggest I don’t use the font.

Fig 3, Graham, Bekkie. 2019 “To me it’s a much more guardian picture, I would say, it’s a very accomplished portrait, it’s definately of a level of portrait.

*We discussed economic status in the images.

Fig 4, Graham, Bekkie. 2019. “, Comes very close to an advertising image. It’s got the very middle class aspiration life style, it’s got the woodburner. I dont want to knock this picture , I recognise, it’s a very accomplished picture, the conversation and different people doing different things.”

*Discussed Margaret Mitchells work which has just been published in source , and that she is working in working class , “This isn’t margare mitchelles world”

“It’s just so polished”

*Likened the work to Tina Barney’s “upper middle class/rich people. This was really interesting. I explained the broad range of financial circumstances of the families, that the project crossed between single parents on benefits in council houses, to the family of the CEO of one of Cornwalls most well known tourist spots . I explained this was a conscious aesthetic decision as I was trying to show that when it comes to the education of these children , a ‘richer’ person may be able to buy more books, but that doesn’t mean the education is any more or less.

Fig 4, Graham, Rebecca. 2020. “It’s a very different type of picture, are there more like this, are you going to start working with these scraps again?”

*Mentioned David Billingham’s work with scraps of paper

*Discussed ‘A Heuristic Interlude’

Graham, Bekkie . 2019. “Again I like this picture because of the two rooms, it’s not overly graphic, it seems in a good way a bit looser as a picture I enjoy it because of that.”
Graham, Bekkie. 2019. “It’s ones like this that are probably a really strong editorial picture, but for me it’s …. it could be an ad. Again it’s a great picture”
Graham, Bekkie. 2019. I quite like that but again it feelsa very different sort of picture, again if the stuff had sort of been spilling over the sides.
Graham, Bekkie. 2019 . Liked this one because of the ambiguity of it.

*Recommended in source previous issue lady who took images of her autistic sons

Tree – too editorial, really didn’t like this one.

Amelia and Oska in the RA – said it was fine to use it, he wouldn’t be bothered.

Oska and I on the sofa – liked it but again to polished.

“Some of them are just so polished, it sort of undermines it. It would be myc prefernce in how I would edit them, but there is some very strong pictures here”

*I asked if I could put together a more specific edit based on johns feedback and he said I could email him that that would be great.

Karen Brett –

I showed Karen both ‘Heuristic spaces’ and ‘A Heuristic Interlude’ as we had plenty of time in this meeting as less people attended.

Karen and I had a really interesting conversation about diversity, class and curriculum . Discussed ways to include more diversity, possibly moving to Exeter and/or Bristol to reach a more diverse audience, so it is still the South West. Explained it was a project she could see the project going all over the uk for 10+ years. Karen again said the image of Amelia and Oska in the RA is fine as it isn’t an image of the piece of art, it’s a photograph of my children. We discussed funding from the Arts council , Karen advised

“I could applying for much more than that , just because of the complexities of the project, and where it needs to go. This is a major body of work, it might be ongoing for the rest of your life because it does flow off into different areas” “So I would apply for the big money , so it’s getting someone to support you with your application.”

*We then discussed details of arts council applications and the complexities and intricacies of them “With yours, you shouldn’t have a problem, it’s educational, your reaching diverse groups, you’re reaching out to everyone, and you wont have a problem because your project ticks all the boxes completely to get that funding, and what you can push it towards, and inform people about”

  • Asked about having someone write the application, Karen said I was vocal enough ( 🙂 ) I could do it fine myself. She advised going for the larger £20,000+ , writing it myself but then getting someone to go through it. Possibly discuss with Falmouth Art Gallery after my exhibition.
  • Discussed networking / portfolio reviews and sending new work and then asking about the arts council funding advice of these people.
  • Funderfinder
  • Wellcome group grant – advised I went for this as well
  • South west films
  • Entering my films into competitions to bring awareness
  • Crowdfunding
  • Had a really great conversation with Karen and Ines about alternative lifestyles and how our work slots together, as well as the inadequacies of the current school structures around the world and how they haven’t moved with the times.

Laura Hynd –

I showed laura the video of Athene and her family from ‘Heuristic Spaces’

“They’re great videos”

We discussed the issue of asking non-white friends to be apart of the project. Laura wondered whether I had asked my white friends without thinking about it, I actually hadn’t, I posted on the local home-ed groups and asked people and they contacted me, however I totally see her point. It is about a wider issue of ethics than just racial ethics to me though. All my friends KNEW I was doing this project , if they didn’t approach me about being in it, then they didn’t want to be in it, black skin or white skin that doesn’t affect that. I won’t put myself into a position where I could be pressurising someone into letting me photograph them when they may not be comfortable.

Recommended the archive slide luck pot show editorial where Laura shared some of her multimedia projects.

*Suggested having video’s no longer than 4 mins (It was 5.30 when I showed laura I believe)

“For example , from the ones you showed me, there is the beautiful bit of the the child playing the violin , but you’re sat on the same photograph for the entire duration. That soundtrack would be beautiful for just going through every image, 4 or 5 seconds.”

“I’m sorry to say it, but people will turn it off.”

“It’s very important to not make stuff so slow.”

“It’s giving yourself really strict rules about how long the films have got to be, no longer than, and making sure that there is pace.”

The crescendo is divine, you know, it’s beautiful, it’s a lovely lovely moment, but it feels like it needs to get to that point a bit sooner.”

*Look at more multimedia pieces.

*Christina d’midell (SP?) multimedia pieces & the link above and maria theres salvalti (sp?)

*Idea of putting the project into one video. (kind of like a trailer of the project)

“I’m not saying people won’t do that (look at the 18 films) but they’re going to need to be invested to do that.” “So I need to get them invested first”

(treat it as a work of art still and not a ‘trailer’ but essentially a trailer)

Karen McQuaid –

I decided to show Karen my video from ‘A Heuristic Interlude’ (the covid families)

*discussed interview content and who was talking . I explained why it was sometimes my voice, Karen agreed with me it would be better to always be the parents.

*discussed using an actor to read the parents responses. (and add a disclaimer)

*discussed interviews can the text find a way into the project, maybe the parents handwriting

“I suppose what I am trying to say is that I responded better when it was the individuals voice, so maybe if that individual doesn’t want to use their voice, maybe get an actor.”

*personalise and distinguish the tone of the families

*Wendy Ewald

*Advocacy , contrast to current conversation. Asked how I was going to bring this into the project

*showed the 18 families and the research that sits alongside them

“thats absolutely what I was talking about, it’s about bringing in the contemporary references and the factual aspect. I think doing it in this peppered way through the stills is a really nice way to doing it. Especially as a book.”

*Karen recommended taking photos of newspapers, or recording the tv rather than using the direct copy of something I want to include. “so record it withing a context that is creatively yours”

“I really like that idea of moving between what we call more ephemeral information , leaflets, screengrabs, that sort of thing, and the personal stories.”

*recommended working on the video more before sharing it .

*Don’t think of it is a standalone thing right now. Work on it a bit more than work out a way to house it on the website alongside the other work first.

Clare Bottomly –

I showed Clare ‘Heuristic spaces’ briefly so she understood how I would use research, but then shared the video of Athene from the 18 families.

Clare’s crit was brilliant, the discussing and throwing around of ideas back and forth was really helpful for working through some ideas.

“It’s a very tricky subject isn’t it, because it’s very big, it’s almost like a PhD research project”

“I’m not really qualified to talk about home teaching, what I get from that video is that it’s really nice to see inside , because noone really knows what home schooling is, to visualise, to be inside that atmosphere is important, to take away, this demystifying. English people are just so distrusting of anything outside of the educational system.”

*would like to hear more direct questioning from me (podcast again)

“Needed that element of a more driven questioning/conversation

*could use these videos as trailers for the podcasts

*Really likes the image of amelia and oska at the RA as it talks about how we look and the different ways we look , made her think of how kids interact in galleries because it’s liberating.

“I think the videos are going to be a very strong component because it will combine your visuals with the ability to have this voice, and I think the voices of these home-educators are going to be super important to include. “

*giving the people a voice rather than them being spoken about it really important

*think about the limits of our medium

*Then had a really interesting conversation

*not convinced with the edits ad fading , experiment with editing , take out the transitions to change the pace , because it’s quite active . Editing styles change very fast

*Reaching out to someone who does video editing for advice

*make a visualisation in a video of the research so they are less heavy going.

*check out the human library as it could be an interesting way of using this for telling peoples stories.

*thinks I should include the video but I should reach out to someone I can collaborate with

Wendy McMurdo –

“Your project for me Bekkie, is very simply, making visible, is showing the reality of home-education. Often hidden, as a counter balance to the reactionary views towards home-education”

*discussed the problems with using the word invisible.

*trying to promote understanding

*informing / educating

“This is issue about invisibility is a political issue and it’s really really important”

“There’s two things here, theres your reproduction of the education act, screen grabs, and research going on and that is juxtaposed against these often very beautiful images of people relaxed reading, or being creative. So this idea of opposition is two different things that really come together, and that is very powerful.”

“It’s a slow build so don’t beat yourself up about it.”

*confidence to push some work to the side

*small discreet projects

“You’re very much at the beginning of a process that could take ten or twenty years.”

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

Contextual research Year 3 and Maternality


Taken from my critical review 27.01.20

During the break I have been reading up in-depth on a number of  photographers working in the same spheres as me (Davey, Boon, Laboile, Carucci, Abril, Calypso) , and managed to attend a number of exhibitions that relate to my practice in varying ways  , both directly to my pedagogical body of work within the MA (Year3 Tate), and to my broader practice, photographing stories and journeys of motherhood (Taylor Wessing and Matrescence). 

Part of the homework that was set for during the holidays as preparation for this module, was to write a critical review of three practitioners or exhibitions that related directly to our body of work/wider practice, to help contextualise our practice, and our place in the art world further. Below are my reflections on two of the exhibitions I attended, I chose to leave the third as decided to focus on the weeks readings instead . 

STEVE MCQUEEN YEAR 3 PROJECT TATE BRITAIN 

The first exhibition I attended was  YEAR3 PROJECT at Tate Britain, by Steve McQueen. 

Before attending the exhibition in person I wrote about it and a selection of accompanying reviews, during the last module, and how it had created a primal creative urge within myself, to run away to London and start photographing home educated children there, as a retort. Tate describes the exhibition and it’s premise in that it “offers us a glimpse of the capital’s future, a hopeful portrait of a generation to come.” (Tate Britain)

When the first press releases and critiques started coming out after it’s opening, there was (as far as I read , and I read quite a few pieces on it) zero mention of this collection of images containing any children from the home education community in London, which is huge, no children from pru schools, or children that attended school through hospitals or tutors at home where children have long term illnesses. I was incensed by it, a project the claimed to show the ‘face of Londons future’ …. blatantly expressing that this face didn’t include any children outside of the mainstream school system. This wasn’t an issue of home education, it was an issue of lack of representation/diversity within a project who’s very aim was to show diversity & inclusion. It seemed from these write ups to me, that the only diversity that this exhibition included was ethnicity and skin colour, and as undeniably important as that is, it doesn’t expunge the need for representation across the board. 

However, then the BJP article came out and it changed my understanding of the project.

Year3_project_2

Figure 1 © British journal pf photography ; issue 7891.

It made me realise quite acutely how lazy journalism can impact the understanding of an exhibition or body of work , it turned out from this article, that the exhibition did in fact include some home educated children, as well as children from pru and special schools, it was just that the mainstream British media had felt it totally unnecessary to even mention this fact, something I imagine, must of been quite embarrassing, and infuriating to both Tate and McQueen.

When the exhibition first opened the general overall reception from the media and critics was extremely positive, it was likened to the monumental undertaking of the 1955 Family of Man exhibition at MoMa  in more than one article. Of all the articles I read in fact, there was only one that wasn’t ready to bow down to the society changing project, and it seemed to resonate with some of my feelings on the exhibition. 

As I wrote in my crj post https://www.bambino-art.co.uk/contextual-research-week-11-year-3-project-tate-britain/  last module;  

That of Harry Thorne of Frieze, In his piece entitled “ What All the Reviews of Steve McQueen’s ‘Year 3’ at Tate Britain Have Got Wrong. Why are we so quick to praise mass participation?” where he states “My concern is the journalists who encounter ambitious community outreach projects like Year 3 and proclaim, before said projects even open, that they will ‘open a window on to our collective soul’ (The Guardian, September 2018) – those who are either too keen to signal virtue or too terrified of what might happen if they do not. A cursory glance at the recent history of public art will show that projects such as these are imitative (especially when public funding is involved) and, if praise is heaped blindly, the legacy of relational aesthetics will be large-scale participatory spectacles that disappear from the public consciousness just as quickly as they arrive. The risk is that we will end up with projects that do not help communities, but use communities for acclaim, only to discard them once more. Involvement does not equate to engagement. Participation is not praxis.” (Thorne. 2019 : Frieze ) ”   Contextual research week 11 . 

Showing the opposing side of that argument, Susanna Rustin of the Guardian wrote before the exhibition was unveiled, “If the attempt to represent London in all its diversity sounds didactic, even corny, I anticipate that the massed spectacle of childish humanity will be more surprising than that. Visitors from all over the place will leave with their idea of the city altered. (Rustin. The guardian. 22.10.18 ) Steve McQueen’s school photo will open a window on to our collective soul . 

I was keen to see whether this exhibition would indeed lead to an altered perception of our capital city, a rather bold presumption or statement, even for such a ‘monumental undertaking’. EDITED TO ADD 09.02.20 AFTER REFLECTING MORE ON THIS, AND REVISITING IT, IT HAS OCCURED TO ME, THAT ACTUALLY THE YEAR3 PROJECT MAY INFACT DO THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF WHAT IT AIMED TO. THE AIM , ONE ASSUMES FROM LITERATURE, WAS TO BRING TOGETHER A POST-BREXIT BRITAIN, TO SHOW OUR DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY. HOWEVER, FROM THE CITY THAT RESOLUTELY VOTED TO REMAIN IN THE EU, AND DOES HAVE A HUGE DIVERSITY OF PEOPLE OF MANY DIFFERENT ETHNICITIES, MULTICULTURAL FAMILIES, EXCHANGE STUDENTS, EXPATS , THE LIST GOES ON. WE ALREADY KNEW THAT LONDON WAS DIVERSE, THE ISSUE, IS THAT THE REST OF THE UK, OR LARGE PORTIONS OF IT AT LEAST ARE NOT. IN EFFECT ONE COULD ARGUE ALL THIS PROJECT MAY OF DONE, IS HIGHLIGHTED THE DIVIDE BETWEEN THE CAPTIAL AND THE REST OF THE COUNTRY EVEN MORE ACUTELY. 

I attended the exhibition at Tate Britain with my four children aged 18/15/12 and 9 years old. My practice revolves around our children, and has evolved along with my own personal journey of motherhood as I have written about previously in my last module. I see my work through the MA as a collaboration with them, and was especially interested to hear their views on the McQueen project and what they thought about these points as well.

Their main feedback however, was that it appeared to them to be some huge surveillance conspiracy ( to make it clear these are the imaginings of four children, and I am in no way saying that is what this is obviously, that would be insane!) . They commented on the expanse of the project, but mostly they were just bored. To them it was, one image after one image, all of them the same. We did have a discussion about the way that Tate had positioned schools with the same coloured jumpers together to create an almost rainbow effect, which could be perceived as a nod towards the projects aim to show a diverse London.

For me personally, I found the project claustrophobic in it’s immensity. The whole thing was like a metaphor for the stifling, imposing, overbearing rigidity that institutionalised education represents to me personally. The photographs merged into one , the faces disappearing into each other, no one child unique, like a twisted nod to the “when everyone is super no-one will be” (Incredibles 2004) . Although some of the images are more informally arranged, and that is a strength of the project and was clearly a compositional choice, one has to ask the question, did no-one see how rigid and conformed and traditional this would look, the very opposite of the open, welcoming, portrayal that was being sought . 

My 18 year old son summed my fear and dread of these images quite aptly by saying the whole exhibition, both reminded him of, and made him feel a little bit like this …

Video © Star Wars Attack of the Clones 2003

Even trying to view the photographs up close it was hard to focus in on any one class let alone any one child, indeed for safety reasons there are many signs up asking people not to take individual photographs of the classes. Showing you the work is indeed to be viewed collectively as a whole (Interesting the children’s pack that you can collect for the door encourages children focusing in on individual children, which in itself raises questions) which as you can see from the images below, creates a dizzying effect. When I viewed the images of the children up close, there was happy smiley child, next to happy smiley child, next to neutral looking child, next to neutral looking child, next to sad looking child, next to sad looking child. One of the things that concerned me about this exhibition is that statistically one can assume, some of these children are so poor they aren’t having three meals a day, statistically some of them will be suffering from abuse, statistically some of them will be being bullied. The list goes on. ‘We’ used these children to create this fabulous inclusive view of our capital city (AND MAKE NO MISTAKE, I DO THINK IT IS A FABULOUS EXHIBITION EVEN THOUGH THIS POST MAY NOT READ ON THE WHOLE LIKE THAT, I JUST BELIEVE THERE IS MUCH MORE AT PLAY HERE TO BREAK DOWN AND UNDERSTAND) where everyone is welcome in our post-brexit era, without thinking about the individual children, their wants and needs, their individual stories, and that just feels wrong somehow.

Laura Cummings of the guardian said in her review : “Some classes break into laughter at the shutter’s click, delighted by the photographer’s rival smile, or perhaps by the whole surprise of the occasion (few primary schools organise these all-together-now group portraits any more). In at least one shot, a child is jubilantly singing while the teacher tries to maintain the conventional silence. And, sad to say, an entire class of grey-clad children looks fearful and tense. Looming top left is the grim overlord of discipline.”  ( Cummings. The guardian. 17.11.19)  Which shows me that it is indeed possible to see the individual children. 

But I ask, what are we looking through, or past, to see these images? 

In reference to this, I then have to ask myself, am I doing a similar thing, but on a smaller scale? It is, I can assume true, that I know the families and children in my images undoubtedly more deeply than these photographers knew these 76,000 children. But still, I am photographing children, and that comes with a moral obligation to consider how these images will be consumed, by whom, and in what context. Ethics and morals state I have a duty to do all I can to keep these parents and children safe, so I need to carefully considering where and how these images are used.

IMG_0151
IMG_2874

Figure 4Figure 4

Figures 2-4 iPhone Images © Rebecca Graham 2020

I found Fig 4, image so intriguing. I never take ‘sit still, stand up straight, smile for the camera” images of our children, yet when faced with the year 3 project images that is what our youngest did, emulating the formal pose of the children within the works, and mirroring it back at itself.

I am not without awareness that I view these images, and this project, from an extremely biased point of view. As discussed during Wednesday nights seminar this week, we all view, all images from a position of prejudice in effect. Where we have spent our whole lives being influenced and effected by the images we have come into contact with, whether consciously or subconsciously , but not just that, by every aspect of our lives, from the important to the mundane.  This exhibition, is not an exhibition of individual humans, it is an exhibition to be viewed in it’s totality, we are invited to view the subject as a whole, and consequently I cannot but help to view it in context, and that context is an institution that I , whilst seeing the obvious benefits for many, have made the conscious decision collectively with my family to shun for ourselves, as we inherently disagree with it.

Therefore, I have to ask myself, is it even fair for me to ‘review’ this exhibition when I am so incapable of viewing it from an uniformed and unbiased point of view ? 

***

 ‘Part 2 Maternality’

The next exhibition that I went to was ‘ Part 2 Maternality ‘, curated by Catherine McCormack and shown at Richard Saltoun gallery in London. This exhibition was the second part of a two part exhibition (the first being matresence), with the first part showing prior to Christmas in the gallery. The idea behind the exhibition is described on their web page as themes of maternal experience, ‘Maternality,’ reflects on the etymological root of the word mother and its close relationship with material matter, the very substance from which the universe is created (in Latin mater/materia). ( Richard Saltoun. 2019)

IMG_4944

Figure 5, iPhone image © Rebecca Graham 2020

The first image you are presented with as you enter the gallery, behind the desk where you collect the exhibition information from, is a large printed image , tacked directly to the wall by artist Liv Pennington. I thought Penningtons’ idea was genius. On opening night of part 1 Maternality, Pennington did a live performance piece entitled ‘Private view’, where ladies were invited to take a pregnancy test , the results of which (the pregnancy tests little blue line or lines) were then photographed and compiled into a single image. Pennington has performed this piece at other galleries, and the lady working at the gallery pulled up some of her past pieces from other exhibitions, where ladies had found out on the night that they were pregnant, some after trying to conceive for years. No-one had a positive pregnancy test this time round, but those blue lines took me straight back to finding out about my own pregnancies, but perhaps more crucially to the piece, it took me back to the tens, hundreds of pregnancy tests perhaps that  I took over the 9+ years we took conceiving our own children, and the mental and emotional turmoil that goes with each one. The collective image is like a look straight into the deepest recesses of someones thoughts and feelings, the hope, the joy, the despair, the excruciating anguish, it is a mix of everything rolled into and presented anonymously , no way of knowing or identifying who’s image was whoms, or which lines came with pleasure or profound sadness.

There is some wonderful 360 degree images on galleries now that show you the different rooms layouts, and the pieces during the show. You can view them at this LINK HERE . Like this online exhibition, I really like the idea of including a vr gallery of my final major project exhibition, as it is a wonderful way to make sure you reach audiences who otherwise may not be able to attend and experience the exhibition, whilst simultaneously keeping the exhibition ‘alive’ for as long as I wish online. This is an interesting prospect for many reasons, as well as the above, the MA is a huge amount of work, and having a continuing manifestation of that work would be great to be able to reference back too. Also, given my subject, and it’s place in the history of pedagogy, it would be an interesting and informative thing to do for future generations to be able to go back and look at what the exhibitions was like, where it was set, how it was laid out, what you were presenting. Lastly, when I am old and grey I can show my grandkids what I did one year when I was ‘young’ and thought completing an MA , whilst facilitating one child through A-levels, and another through GCSE’s was a wise idea !

Lucy Davis, for the Telegraph wrote a review of the exhibition HERE ( Davis, Telegraph) the piece titled the unvarnished truth of motherhood. Davis says “The works mostly tackle the subject’s darker complexities – that birth is something that people can’t quite cope with looking at, for instance, or that the first few months of rearing a child can be disappointing and exhausting, rather than the joyous experience we are led to believe.” (Davis, The telegraph) . I found this “birth is something that people can’t quite cope with looking at” to be not quite true , myself, but then I am used to seeing birth everyday, and being around people who feel passionately positive about depictions of it that are in no way filtered, or abstract. 

The art in this exhibition was very much different to the pieces in the pre 2020 exhibition ‘Birth’ at TJ Boulting Curated by Charlotte Jansen . It is hard to say what was different about it, each was as successful as the other, but they seemed to encompass different types of art, and definitely different representations of motherhood and birth. Jansens’ exhibition seemed revolutionary, direct, raw and in your face, to the point, Where as  MacCormacks’ was, it seemed, more abstract and conceptual, Jansens’ was significantly more photography based whereas Macormack’s was heavily sculptural, installation and mixed media pieces . Neither was better than the other, they were both impressive in a very different way, and it was good to see that each curator had approached the subjects in quite different ways, both, were, I believe revolutionary in their depictions of birth and motherhood, and address important issues of what we see motherhood as in todays world. This makes me think again, what type of instillation I am going for for the FMP, I wrote last module in my presentation about wanting my final outcome of the MA to be an interactive submersive exhibition for families. Neither of these galleries were that, but there were elements I would take from both, like the bright modernity of ‘Birth’ and the mixed media , tactile of nature of maternality to come together and create my vision of an exhibition about children, about pedagogy in a way that makes the images of learning, a learning experience. Something for all the family, and all the senses. 

I have to admit, when I read the telegraph write up, I wonder if I was at the same exhibition as Davis. I didn’t notice some of the things mentioned in her piece. But I did attend with my four children, so undoubtedly couldn’t pay as much attention as I did at Jansen’s exhibition which I attended with my husband. This is something I will also bare in mind  when with children, it IS hard to take everything in, so how can I help overcome that in my exhibition? 

I think my over riding feeling when comparing the two, was that Jansen’s ‘BIRTH’ was much more ‘now’ and in touch with the mothering, and birth worlds, whereas the MacCormack exhibition materiality, appeared to be more for an art based market, depicting artistic representations.  Maybe to say Jansen’s discussed the ‘now’ of birth and motherhood, whereas MacCornmacks’ ‘maternality’ seems to be more of an artistic look at the history of birth and mothering perhaps? MacCormacks exhibition was a quiet, dignified , art world approach, which was beautiful and affirming, whereas Jansen’s appeared to be a modern , abrupt slap in the face that we all wake up to the real world of pregnancy, birth and mothering, with all it’s political, social, psychological and philosophical nuances. 

maternality

Figure 6 © Graham, Rebecca. 2020.

I was especially drawn to the pieces in the room above, Judy Chicago’s The crowning shows a beautiful tapestry of the moment a baby is crowning, whilst Carmen Winnant’s ‘woman must write herself’ is the beautiful piece hanging on the left. Resembling a traditional bedspread that squares would be added too over the years, each square depicts a different moment of motherhood, womanhood, breastfeeding, birthing, sensual images, the sphere and entirety of being a woman encompassed together, it is a truly powerful piece. 

Annegret Soltau’s stitched photograph (Fig 7)  entitled On the birthing table, pregnant 1 (1978) , according to the exhibition write up , “draws attention to the pregnant body as something that can come apart and back together in uncanny transformations.” ….. “of coming apart at the seams” and “the fabric of pregnancy bodies is therefore something that can be manipulated creatively, but which is also subject to violence through cutting and perforation – felt as much through the surface material of the body an physically ” (exhibition catalogue) was a favourite with my son , who having been born into the world via c-section, and being witness to a mother recovering from c-sections with his brothers and sisters was drawn to the piece, but described it as macabre and haunting.Figure 7 Figure 7

Figure 7, Image © Graham, Rebecca. Photograph Annegret Soltau’s stitched photograph ‘On the birthing table, pregnant 1’ (1978)

Whilst my daughter, and youngest son, were drawn to the political nature of the questions raised in these pieces below.

Figure 8 , iPhone image © Graham, Rebecca. 2020. Images © Jo spence / Hackney flashers ‘who’s still holding the baby’ 1978Figure 8Figure 8

DEFINTIONS 

  1. World schooling – Whilst there is no dictionary definition of world schooling, as there are many ways in which different families implement this method of living and education, for understanding; the general theory revolves around combining travel and education, and utilising the culture you are in to further education and development.

BIBLIOGRAPHY & REFERENCES

Tate Britain. ‘Steve McQueen year 3’ Available at : https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/steve-mcqueen-year-3 (accessed 28.01.20)

1955 Family of Man exhibition at MoMa https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/2429

Graham, Rebecca. Bambino art photography. Contextual research week 11 . Available at : https://www.bambino-art.co.uk/contextual-research-week-11-year-3-project-tate-britain/ ( accessed 28.01.20 )

Thorne, Harry. 15.11.19. Frieze. What All the Reviews of Steve McQueen’s ‘Year 3’ at Tate Britain Have Got Wrong . https://frieze.com/article/what-all-reviews-steve-mcqueens-year-3-tate-britain-have-got-wrong (Accessed 05.12.19)

Rustin, Susanna. 22.10.18 The guardian. Steve McQueen’s school photo will open a window on to our collective soul . Available at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/22/steve-mcqueen-school-photo-london-year-3-art (Accessed 28.01.20)

© Star Wars Attack of the Clones. 2003. Video Youtube.   https://youtu.be/g8mvN2Zv_OI

Cummings, Laura. 17.11.19 . The guardian . Steve McQueen: Year 3 review – skewed ties, missing teeth and hope. Available at : https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/nov/17/steve-mcqueen-year-3-tate-britain-review-leonardo-experience-a-masterpiece-national-gallery (Accessed 28.01.20)

Part 2 Maternality . Curated by Catherine McCormack. 2019. Richard Saltoun gallery, London.  https://www.richardsaltoun.com/exhibitions/80-part-2-maternality/overview/ (Accessed  28.01.20)

Maternality at Richard Saltoun. Galleries now. https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/maternality/ (Accessed 04.01.20)

Davis, Lucy.  13.11.2019. Artists reveal the unvarnished truth of motherhood, from pregnancy tests to the mess of childbirth. The telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/luxury/art/artists-reveal-unvarnished-truth-motherhood-pregnancy-tests/ (Accessed 04.02.20)

IMAGES

Figure 1, Graham, Rebecca. 2019. Photograph of BJP magazine. Lloyd, Joe. Jan 2020. British journal pf photography ; issue 7891. Year 3.

Figures 2-4, Graham, Rebecca. 2020.  – iPhone Images view of year3 project by Steve McQueen at Tate Britain.

Figure 5, Graham, Rebecca, 2020 . iPhone image Maternality sign outside Richard Saltoun gallery, London.

Figure 6, Graham, Rebecca. 2020. iPhone panorama of Gallery 2, Maternality. Richard Saltoun gallery, London.

Figure 7, Graham, Rebecca. 2020. iPhone image of Photograph Annegret Soltau’s stitched photograph ‘On the birthing table, pregnant 1′ (1978)

Figure 8, Graham, Rebecca. 2020. iPhone image of Jo spence / Hackney flashers ‘who’s still holding the baby’ 1978

EXHIBITIONS

1) Steve McQueen, Year 3 project, Tate Britain, London. https://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/steve-mcqueen-year-3

2) Maternality , curated by Catherine McCormack, Richard Saltoun gallery, London.  https://www.richardsaltoun.com/exhibitions/80-part-2-maternality/overview/

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

PROJECT DEVELOPMENT THE HEUTAGOGICAL HOME

I have shortlisted my families images to 88.

I could shortlist more.

I am not going to at the moment.

I put them all together printed at 3×2 on the table and nearly cried at the beauty of what a life we have had, all that the has passed in the last two years, me starting and finishing an MA , my boys doing gcse’s , my son starting university, covid, my second eldest getting ready to start sixth form on the path to Oxford university.

This is a road map of our lives, and four our family, our lives are education and education is our lives, the two are so intrinsically linked up together that it is impossible to separate one from the other. Our children have always been autonomously educated, or ‘child-led’ as it is also known as, this means that we value that from the moment they wake up , to the moment they go to bed there is learning in everything they do. These images show this beautifully. They also show the flying of the nest of our eldest, and then in turn , his brother preparing to do the same.

I have decided I am going to do a huge grid of this and get it printed on fabric and made into a ‘family quilt’ , I am hoping they will hang this from the ceiling at Falmouth art gallery when I have the exhibition there in the summer (it was only ever meant to be the 18 families) as I think it is a really important addition to the project. I got the idea of this from Carmen Winant’s piece at Maternality at Richard Sallton gallery in Feb 2020 (I wrote about this exhibition and piece here in my CRJ ) where she had this huge piece of collage of peoples births & mothering.

Fig 0, Maternality, Richard Saltoun gallery feb 2020. https://www.richardsaltoun.com/exhibitions/80/installation_shots/image1655/

This is the space the exhibition is going in, I will have 22 frames up and around the stairs.

Fig 1, Graham, google search Falmouth Art Gallery Foyer

This shows the space a little more closely

Video 1 – Kith and Kin Falmouth art gallery. You Tube.

Underneath is a shortlist of the 88 images

Fig 2, Graham Bekkie 2021. The Heutagogical Home shortlisted images

Update 16.03.2021

Over the weekend I finalised my public presentation of the sphere of work relating to my family ‘The Heutagogical Home’ . Firstly I shortlisted to 88 images down from 148 , out of originally about 3000 images and video. I then printed out all 88 images at a4 size and pinned them to my wall, I am going to have these printed on a 4m x 2m length of fabric, as a nod to traditional heirloom patchwork quilts added too and handed down from families. I am looking at getting the printing done by contrado as it was recommended by both Wendy and Ilya, although price may play a factor. I am currently waiting on their print samples to be sent through.

Fig 3, Graham, Bekkie. 2021. Final presentation on wall ready to print at 4meters by 2 meters
Video 2 – Graham, Bekkie. 2021. The Heutagogical Home , accompanid by Big Theif ‘Mary’

REFERENCES

Fig 0, Maternality, Richard Saltoun gallery feb 2020. https://www.richardsaltoun.com/exhibitions/80/installation_shots/image1655/

Fig 1, Graham, google search Falmouth Art Gallery Foyer

Fig 2, Graham Bekkie 2021. The Heutagogical Home shortlisted images

Fig 3, Graham, Bekkie. 2021. Final presentation on wall ready to print at 4meters by 2 meters

WEBSITES

https://www.richardsaltoun.com/exhibitions/80-part-2-maternality/overview/

VIDEO

Video 1 – Kith and Kin Falmouth art gallery. You Tube.

Video 2 – Graham, Bekkie. 2021. The Heutagogical Home , accompanid by Big Theif ‘Mary’

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

CONTEXTUAL RESEARCH SOPHIE CALLE

Fig 1, The Hotel, Room 47 1981 Sophie Calle born 1953 Presented by the Patrons of New Art through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1999 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P78300

Project ideas – display of text and image together or side by side.

I don’t like the grid format for my project , but this could work in an exhibition with a transcript of an audio potentially.

I have purchased mini mp3 players for my exhibition at Falmouth art gallery and am hoping to have these displayed alongside some of the images.

These will contain brief 30 second – 1min audio clips of the families in the image it corresponds too.

The text idea is a good way to bring more of the work together in a variety of different ways, I am drawn to the idea of using many mediums as it keeps the viewer visually engaged, especially children who are so sense orientated.

Outside of covid, having these as sheets they can pick up and read would be good

REFERENCES

Fig 1, The Hotel, Room 47 1981 Sophie Calle born 1953 Presented by the Patrons of New Art through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1999 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/P78300

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

MEETING 6 WITH WENDY

Date of Supervision Meeting

03.03.21

Start time of Meeting

/

Length of Meeting in minutes

30

Meeting Notes & Action Points

*Remember the website is not THE work, it is a carrier for the work

* Think of it as a kind of mini presentation of the work

* If I were you I’d be thinking about putting together this document that is about histories and stories

*Itmay be in pdf form you have to do edited transcriptions

* you know it always was going to be a bit of an issue with you, because there was all this work bubbling over

* What is the scope, what will it contain

* live links

*two stories with links under

*you’ve got this opportunity to create this really engaging visual document, you know, imagine you were sending this to a publisher

*dont make the assumption people will listen to the [full] interview

*think of it as the interview will supplement the document

*I think this is going to be a really creative tim for you

*The title schooled is a big no no, it’s negative and not in the spirit of the project 

I checked with people I did the portfolio reviews with, families in the project and some of the academics I am working with , one or two were indifferent, one was worried that it would make everyone think EVERYONE in the project was unschooling, but by far and large the vast majority really liked the title and could see why I used it, so I will be sticking with this)

* This is quite different to the heuristic thing, using that as a sub title is good, it’s an interesting word.

( Insert me having a hard day as I hadn’t slept more than 3 hours a night in two weeks …. finishing the MA is HARD !!!) 

*Don’t panic, you’ve got all the material you need. The document is nothing to worry about

*Use the document to really clearly communicate your ideas, thinking about audience.

*The audience for the website is one thing

*I think you also have a broader audience for this project as everyone has been to school.

*You also have the homeschooling community audience

(Insert me once again explaining I am feeling very overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work I have to do before hand in)

*Discussed images of my family and outcome for this, and how I don’t think this will be finished for the end of FMP which wendy has said is fine

*Wendy questioned will the project EVERY “REALLY” be done – I think the answer to this is a resounding no and I am not sure I would every want it to be honestly, it will continue until my children have children that are being educated probably

*You have three case studies, of three families, and three stories that tell it all, all the information and answers to it

*Identify how many images you are going to show

*display them then write the audio for them

*You’ve got to this point at the right time, you’ve got enough time to do this work

*I discussed that I get ‘sidetracked’ when doing my families shortlisting as it ends up just a mum watching her kids videos feeling nostalgic (I have finished this shortlist since I have this meetin and was able to be slightly less nostalgic) 

*************************************************************************************************************************

Print them all out, lay them on the floor, START PUSHING EVERYTHING THAT ISN’T ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL !!!

*************************************************************************************************************************

*GET THE TOP 50 OFF YOUR HARD DRIVE AND JUST START PLAYING AROUND

*DISCUSSED ME NARRATING OVER THE TOP OF MY FAMILIES IMAGES FOR THE FINAL OUTCOME OF THE HEUTAGOGICAL HOME

*discussed it being boring and honest because it is coing from me 

*ONLine workshop for falmouth art gallery

*SOPHIE CALLE

*discussed distilling again

*mock up or model of falmouth gallery exhibition

*First thing is to think about sequencing and this will be good for the exhibition as well

*Discussed using videos of the oral sessions and governemnt representatives from you tube in my work , said this was fine, but pointed me to DACS as well for further information and clarification

Date of Next Proposed Meeting

24.03.21 (meet 7)

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

The Heutagogical Home

Earlier today I joined the peer to peer crit with ilya , robert and Becky . We discussed the crits from the symposium last week , as well as where our projects were at .

Yesterday and today before the crit, I made a start on shortlisting the images of my own family for the sphere of the project ‘The Heutagogical Home’ . I had got them down to 163 from over 10,000 at the peer to peer.

But something happened when I printed them all as contact sheets on A4 and looked at them all together as one story.

I didn’t want to show them to anyone anymore.

This wasn’t just photographs of our family, it was the most private parts of our relationships and family dynamics, the “things” that make us us. Yes it was about education, but suddenly there was more, it was like a diary of two years of our life, the most private unseen emotionally vulnerable parts of our lives. Two years that were emotionally far beyond taxing, with the boys doing gcse’s and alevels, covid, exam cancellations, and then my eldest going off to university.

This was potentially a huge problem.

I left the meeting and thought about this and why I felt like it. I realised straight away a huge portion of it was there were far too many, I was giving away too much of us. I went back through the images and narrowed it down again. This time I separated the images into yes, no and maybe folders. I ended up with 86 items in my yes file, 21 items were deleted straight away, and a further 58 images remained in the ‘maybe’ file.

What I came to realise as I was looking through them, and when I was talking in the peer-to-peer crit, was that it isn’t that I don’t want to show my images of my own family, but it’s that I don’t think I’m comfortable with having so many images of our family, over such a long period of time (the whole two years of the MA) as it’s a huge portion of your children’s lives to put out to everybody else in the open domain.

When I went back through the images, and when I was talking about them in the crit, I realised I didn’t have any problem with having the images in an exhibition for example, where they are there for a week or a month and then they’re taken down, the problem was to do with the online presence of the work, but also the passage of time. I have to ask myself, why I am happy to show other families work, but want to ‘protect’ my own. The answer is time, the passage of time we went through during the MA, is private and personal, and nothing to do with education, yet I can’t show what I wish too, without showing that. It is also the bredth and depth of the work, it is like nothing I did with the 18 families, it’s two years of our lives, our youngest going from the ‘baby’ of the family to a young boy, my sons turning into men, my daughter maturing, and my eldest going off to university. It is a whole lifetime.

So, I think what I’m decided on, is for my hand in I’m going to have the page for the heutagogical home password protected, so that only people that I give the password to can actually access the work. This could be for when I do my hand in for the MA OR for if somebody contacts me about wanting to cover a specific story in the media for example, and I think that this would be a helpful story to show. But it won’t be open to the public for everyone to view.

Interestingly For the last few months I thought once I started working with audio and video that my family sphere of work would end up being a film piece that was essentially a slideshow with snippets of video in, with the whole thing narrated by me over the top; talking about home education what it is to me, how we came to it, what it means to the family, how it affects the children and the brutal honesty of all of it, without having to worry about what I’m saying, as many of the other families in my project may do.

I then met with Amy and Ilya at 11 pm this evening and going through, and showing them the photos, and getting their feedback, looking at it from a non-home educating point of view , I think I realise that this part of the project is predominantly photography based. Although I would still like to do some audio of me discussing home education, I’m not sure that it needs to be with this section of the project. It could stand alone.

I definitely see that this work would work wonderfully as either a book and or an exhibition that is completely focused on the photography, with maybe each title of the image, being just a sentence about home education and what is happening in the image, with reference to learning, Without lengthy texts and definitely no research involved in it, because you can’t research what is your own personal life experience, the photographs ARE the research at the end of the day.

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *