Assignment Three – (post feedback) in readiness for Assessment

assignment-three-essay-post-feedback-pdf

*update – I have received an Unconditional offer from Birmingham City University to study for an MA. Chuffed!

One of the chief ambitions of Assignment Three became the readiness and application thereafter to study for an MA. If successful it might be seen to provide the engagement with artistic practice sought for in the course and probably some form of calibration of my own burgeoning practice. As the course material is now due to be delivered to the college for Assessment, I have decided to provide this short commentary in respect to my current status in respect to enrolling on an MA course.

There are a plethora of applicable courses that one might aspire to including both distant, campus-based, full and part time. Additionally there is a question regarding whether one might follow a Fine-Art course or a Photography Course.

I have decided to try for two courses:

Firstly at Birmingham http://www.bcu.ac.uk/art/courses/art-and-design-ma-2017-18

And secondly at Westminster http://www.westminsterphotography.co.uk/ma-photography-arts/

The Universities have differing entry processes, Birmingham requires the student to apply directly whereas Westminster the student applies through UCAS. Both request personal background information though the level of detail for UCAS is much deeper and perhaps useful for their data collection rather, perhaps, than Westminsters!

My tutor, upon hearing that I planned to go to Birmingham’s Post Graduate recruitment “Open-Day” suggested that I meet the head of the course and introduced me to him. The “Open-Day’ was very beneficial and enlightening and my application was made soon afterwards. The same Head of Course contacted me shortly afterwards and invited me for interview.

Westminster’s procedure is somewhat different and perhaps a bit more formal. The UCAS process – seemingly administered by UKPASS – takes a lot longer to complete and requires more information. I got in contact with their head of Photography MA and was invited in for a meeting to which I received a tour of the facilities. Soon after my application was received I was invited to send in a portfolio of my work – electronically.

I decided to research MA interviews and received some very valuable advice about typical interviews, what was important to remember etc.

I think it appropriate to say something about my decisions and choices of courses.

The Birmingham course is a Fine Art Course is able to be full or part-time – its full title being MA Art and Design: Interdisciplinary Practices. This is a relatively new course which follows the course structure of the established Fine Art course but which places an emphasis on finding a collaborative partner outside the confines of the Art School. In my case this would be, hopefully, in the school of Psychology where I could continue my research into Memory whilst applying it to my developing practice. Discussion with the Head of School suggested that this would be fine and that he had experience in that area.

The Westminster course is a Photography Course, also able to be full or part-time, it is a very well respected course and one which was recommended to me by several tutors and practitioners. I see this course would also help me to continue my thoughts on memory, perhaps especially in relation to the position of camera/photograph as memory/index in relation to truth and post truth. I have now heard that I was unsuccessful in this application.

Assignment Five – (post feedback) in readiness for Assessment

Assignment Five

Essay on the talk at the July 2016 symposium “New Pastoral Paradigms: Landscape and the Self”

The Artist Talk – essay

Video of the performance:

Feedback from Gesa Helms – student attendee on the day:

“Hi John,

I really enjoyed the trip and the day as a whole. I think the event worked very well in terms of what it presented and who Jesse brought together to talk about their work. For me it was in particular useful to see the resonances across the pieces in terms of how the presenters related themselves and significant others in the frame of the image and the wider project by drawing on the environment — I think the discussion of landscape was really useful for me to put that term to the side for my own work but also for how I want to understand other people’s work.

Your presentation was a great opening set and as I said to you: I really valued how you moved on with the text and how the text and image did not relate and intersect each other. That you were able to bring the box was really useful: I think it is that format and that kind of intimacy that works for the project; though I also realise that I didn’t look through the set as a whole (I think the setting was a bit too busy for me to do that). As you mentioned, it was a shame that the projection was so poorly calibrated and the images too bright, I think your set suffered possibly most from that technicality. To end with the video and the voicing of those two sentences was most excellent: the variation in meaning intoned by different speakers was so useful for your discussion of memory and I look forward to seeing how this develops!”

The prompting notes for the talk are here: sheffield-ppt

 

Assignment Four – (post feedback) in readiness for Assessment

Assignment Four

As part of my research I rehearsed and produced a “read-through” of a new play by Nick Payne – “Elegy” premiered at the Donmar Warehouse April 2016 – which is centred on the frailty of human memory. The excerpt here are the final moments of the play performed before an invited audience.

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The course notes suggest that the “Publication” stemming from this module will likely be an exhibition, although it does recognize other means by which the project might emerge, blinking, into the light. What is doesn’t recognise, seemingly, in the notes around Assignment Four is an “artist talk”. Nevertheless, the presentation at a symposium entitled “New Pastoral Paradigms: Explorations in Landscape and the Self”, Bank Street Arts, Sheffield. Saturday 23rd July.

In a previous post I outlined a strategy for the talk with an introductory text at around five hundred words extrapolates to five thousand for the talk as a whole. Whilst I am a trifle daunted by the scale I am confident that I can develop that scale of presentation within the timescale. I aim to request some indulgence from the Thames Valley Group, at a meeting scheduled for a week before the Sheffield event, to present to them as a kind of rehearsal.

Presenting video still

Rehearsal of Artist Talk to Thames Valley Student Group – July 2016

One of the suggested means by which the work might be published on a web-site. I recently developed a new website and launched it as part of this course in early March, after a process of critique and update. The web-site is now stable and I have now introduced a new feature, that of a Blog entitled “Indistinct Images”, which can be accessed directly from my artist website. The new blog will gather items that pertain to my research into the areas of memory that most interest me. I plan not to have this as a functioning student site, rather it will be a place where I put relevant thoughts ideas as I build my practice and develop my voice. Hopefully it will keep the web-site fresh in between times when work is in development.

The website contains a statement “About”: “John has been a photographer for many years and is currently in undergraduate study with the Open College of the Arts. He has been published in year books and periodicals as well as written on photography. His current work investigates intimate responses to the temporal disjunctures of memory and the disruption of personal histories.”

When I wrote that last sentence I wasn’t aware of how important that statement would become. It is a measure of how well the course has gone for me that I feel more strongly in those words now than when I first conceived them. This new found comprehension will, I believe, allow me to construct the framework of the talk i.e. it will not be ‘about’ the work “I keep looking for him, I think I always will”, rather it will enable me to construct a narrative that will stem from the direction that that work provided and the strands of research I am conducting.

My concept for the talk will be to describe briefly what I believe my practice to be ‘about’ and using the “I keep looking…” project to provide the main body of the talk before moving on to briefly introduce some of more recent ideas and contemplations, chiefly as trajectories from that work.

Promotion

In early March I sent my work to Source Magazine with the accompanying text:

This work deals with the relationship I have with my deceased father. Through various phases of my life I have faced success with greater trepidation than failure, for failure was a constant prediction and, therefore, more readily welcomed. Despite many clear and very obvious personal and professional achievements my learnt responses to them have always been negative. This work is the first structured correspondence into a relationship that has maligned many events in my history. And whilst he has been dead for nearly twenty years it is this burdening legacy that I have confronted here.

Purgatory is an unsettled space a few miles from my home in North Oxfordshire. I found a trigger for this project there because it had both physical and emotional resonances at a time when another potential success loomed. My technique was to try and elicit an image with the eye and then ‘find it again’ in the viewfinder. I wanted to respond to the image in an emotional way, fully aware of why I was in this ‘place’ called Purgatory. These images have very distinct personal connotations, which I recognised and composed for, seeking that ‘Punctum’ that Barthes talks about but, rather than in a photograph, I sought to find it in the making of the image.

In Purgatory I went searching for unspecified imagery that would become specific, to see if I could find, through the sub-conscious, a ‘Punctum’, fully aware that the context of the image is rested within only one person and perhaps might never resonate elsewhere. And whilst I had been focused solely on that bondless father and son relationship I now realise that the work, in its construction, reflects also on it’s meta-narrative, love.

I received an almost immediate reply to confirm its receipt and thanking me. However I have not received any further communication from the editor, despite a reminder email a month later. I am not surprised at all by the result, I would need to be very fortunate to be selected. I am planning to enter work for the “Uncertain States” annual exhibition. I have had some conversation around the entry wording with my tutor and will reflect that critique when the work is submitted shortly. Again, I suspect my odds of selection will not be high.

The “New Pastoral Paradigms: Explorations in Landscape and the Self” symposium has afforded plenty of opportunities for promotion. Bank Street Arts, who are hosting the event have an active “PR” and the event is frequently “Tweeted” which allows for follow-on “Retweets” and “Facebook” publicity. The OCA have dedicated a WeAreOCA blogpost to the event. I am active in contriving to amplify that messaging.

I am of course entirely grateful for the opportunity afforded by Jesse Alexander who invited me to present and the OCA & Bank Street Arts for supporting the event.

Artist Statement(s)

The AS I presented at the Family Ties Network event at the Glasgow School of Art in November 2015 was as follows:

John Umney’s project – “I keep looking for him. I think I always will.” – provides a psychological response to an environment inextricably coupled with memories from his past. Currently completing an undergraduate degree in Photography with the Open College of the Arts, John Umney has previously exhibited at Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital permanent artspace May/June 2015 and the South Street Gallery, Churchill Hospital, Oxford July/October 2015 and will informally present his work for critique at the upcoming Family Ties network conference in Glasgow in Nov 2015.

For the upcoming Sheffield event this is what appears:

Family ties and place also underpin John Umney’s I keep looking for Him – I think I always will, which uses landscape photography as a vehicle to reflect on personal memory and autobiography. Using the relationship with his deceased father as a starting point, John explores the complex nature of the father-son relationship through the combination of text, personal artefacts and landscape images set in an unsettled place in Oxfordshire called Purgatory.

For the Uncertain States entry my statement will be:

“I keep looking for Him – I think I always will” uses landscape photography as a vehicle to reflect on personal memory and autobiography. Using the relationship with his deceased father as a starting point, John explores the complex nature of the father-son relationship through the combination of text, personal artefacts and landscape images set in Purgatory, an unsettled place in Oxfordshire.

“I keep looking for him, I think I always will” is part of an on-going research project investigating the relationship between memory and photography.

Assignment One – (post feedback) in readiness for Assessment

Assignment One

purg view S editc2

I’m now receiving feedback for the BoW in its current edit. The FTN event at the Glagow School of Art (November 2015) provided a wonderful opportunity to engage the work with a lot of academics and practicing artists, all of whom have either a practice engaged in the subject of ‘family’ or have at least more than a passing interest for me and the work I am undertaking. I have also sent Assignment Five BoW to my tutor which will provide another layer of feedback.

Having the work on display worked to spark conversations about the work, what I was trying to say and what ‘it’ said to the viewers/readers of the work. I am under no illusion about the work, but I know it affected some of those who engaged with it judging by some of their remarks – I have since had connection requests via twitter and F/B to connect.

I am sure that the print presentation worked, the intimacy involved in the handling of the prints in the format provided worked well, in my opinion. Several viewers commented such. The envelopes with sub-edits, I labelled them ‘Episodes’ worked in another way, in that they distracted attention from the main body. I made the decision to have these ‘Episodes’ as I had no way of knowing if more than one person might want to engage with the work, so the envelopes were made to allow a limited interaction. I think they worked a little too well, the colour – bright red – attracted people to them and even those who viewed the work subsequently succumbed to the attraction of these scarlet containers. I had also taken all the artefacts in the original box that I was given by my mother, but these appeared to be overlooked in favour of the envelopes.

A common reaction was that the texts were quite compelling and I’m wondering about whether they are too strong. They do contrast very strongly with the landscape imagery, whose aesthetic is quite muted; the harshness of these texts was made to echo in the treatment of the artefacts – strong, unambiguous, sure of themselves. I had also asked for feedback from a recent graduate in photography; Leigh-Anne gained a first from UWE last year and some of her reflections tend to agree with how I have made the work:

“This has a really strong message!! I think the narrative is really well written to go alongside the images. I think it intrigues the reader and if you had the descriptor with this body of work I would try to ensure it was read after seeing the images with the narrative. 

There is a strong contrast between the elusive and mysterious landscape shots, that are beautiful but have a sense of sadness about them, and the bleak and clinical shots of the rings and cufflinks. Almost like imagination versus reality?

In the words of my mentor Shaun… “Is it a book?” I know we discussed how books were being made a lot by my course but I think the narrative could make a wonderful short book. I think there would be something in the page turning to reveal more of your memories. I think it also makes a good digital piece as you scroll down you reveal more of the story? I can’t imagine it as prints but maybe that’s because I haven’t got them in front of me??” 

There were a few in Glasgow who spoke of the melancholic nature of the landscape imagery – and I was pleased to note that this was recognised, but I was particularly struck by the notion that Leigh-Anne expressed as “Almost like imagination versus reality?”

One of the texts that I have used (now redacted) in the work is Boltanski’s : “In my early work I pretended to speak about my childhood, yet my real childhood had disappeared. I have lied about it so often that I no longer have a real memory of this time, and my childhood has become for me some kind of universal childhood, not a real one.” 

This idea is about the fictive nature of this work. I make no claims of truth about my early years; my (re)telling is mediated through a porous memory. As Anne Brodie discussed in her presentation at the FTN event, “there are memories that arrive in the early years that will last forever, however there are some in the late ‘teen’s and early twenties that will be ‘pruned’ never to resurface”. Bridging memories demands invention, and it isn’t that inventions aren’t falsehoods, its just they aren’t facts, merely suppositions. They aren’t lies repeated to deceive, just contextual leaps of conjecture, to give meaning. To make ends meet. Boltanski’s words, whilst holding the notion of what I wanted to express are related in a someone else’s voice. I have re-written that idea in my own words in the latest edit as a direct result of feedback.

Another artist Theresa Moerman Ib, whom I met at the FTN event in Glasgow spoke of her own toxic relationship with her father and her work references Boltanski’s writing in a similar way, providing a sense of reassurance to my line of research. It was Theresa who felt the texts that I had used were very strong. My story though isn’t a history, but a way to describe how I feel about myself in regard to a relationship that describes who I am now, and what I want/need to come to terms with. Theresa, in a later communication, mentioned an early work by Sylvia Plath “Full Fathom Five” and in particular the last line of the last verse:

“Your shelled bed I remember.

Father, this thick air is murderous.

I would breathe water.”

(last verse in full)

I, though, recognise the last two lines – or maybe it is the same ‘line’.

I now recognise of course that there are many kinds of feedback. The feedback vested in a practice that interrogates similar themes – Theresa Moerman Ib, whose personal line of inquiry has already opened up research ideas for me and I will continue to as I build that relationship. Theresa has very kindly provided a private copy of her current film “The Third Dad” (trailer) which is to get its premiere shortly at a film festival in London and I will feedback to her my feelings to her work. Feedback from practicing artists who, like Fiona Yaron-Field can provide critical distance, from a practitioner’s perspective. And the likes of Leigh-Anne, who are practice-wise distant from me, but whose development as an artist isn’t that far away. And then of course there is tutor feedback!

If there is one strong element of why feedback is important, other than expressing to another the work, it is about the development of a network. It is about finding avenues to communicate with other artists that will help to sustain a burgeoning practice.

johnumneyfeedback – Fiona Yaron-Field’s feedback

Leigh-Anne’s feedback

Descriptor Dec 1 – latest version of project description

My website: John Umney

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Feedback for John Umney (Fiona-Yaron Field)

Fiona Yaron-Field is a practising artist who has been using photography for over 25 years. She is a qualified Integrative Arts Psychotherapist, Photo-voice trained participatory photography facilitator and author of ‘Up Close,a Mother’s View’ (Bunker Hill Publishing,2008). She is a founding member of Shifting Perspectives – International Touring Exhibition challenging existing images of Down’s syndrome. Fiona is one of the founders and co-editors of ‘Uncertain States’ which holds talks, seminars, exhibitions and publishes a contemporary photography broadsheet. Fiona has participated in symposiums, publications and international exhibitions. Research interests include: The role of photography in the process of Individuation.

This is a very personal work and therefor by this very nature impossible to critic with out fear of a critic towards the artist himself. They are so intertwined. There is a critic of text and of image and of their relationship. So ‘ll start with the easiest of the three, the image, the opening image is stunning and sets the unknown territory we are about to enter. We immediately feel the sense of absence, the coldness, the loss. From the open nothingness an island appears in the fog. This could be where you are looking for him hiding in the bracken or maybe a self portrait. You and him both. The move to the psychical sterile gold chain pulls me back out the unconscious world into the culture, a clue to him. It begins to dawn on me that the nature is your internal world and the objects are him and their relationship are startlingly different. There are images from the natural world I would edit out. I think the series would be stronger with less of them. Some of them are weaker and interrupt the poetry of the series. As I viewed this work on a pdf I recognise that my experience is different from the postcards you originally showed me but something else happened that I am not sure you intended. I saw diptychs. The landscape and the objects.

The last three pages from the sting of his spittle, next landscape, and then the rings works brilliantly together. Each element expands the narrative, is very moving and visually connects. They are all open and leave me space as the viewer to enter. Some earlier text and image are too literal and leave me outside the work. I expect those images are personal to you and mean a lot but if the work is to touch the universal sense of loss, disappointment, love etc it is not enough that it is meaningful to you. (It is of course important that it is meaningful to you!) But if you are talking to yourself then there is no need to show the work it remains therapeutic and personal. I like the text that are the messages he brain washed you with. The text that begins The fact that someone is dead may mean that they are not alive…..could be your first opening text rather than I keep looking for him… . I like that less as I feel you are telling me something that you don’t trust I will discover. I personally don’t feel you are looking for him but for yourself. Most the text is excellent but there is some that I think still needs work for example the text about your childhood. Even without the first sentence it would still have the same meaning. The word ‘childhood’ repeats four times in three and a bit lines. I think you could edit some of the text further to distil it to its essence. For example the first memory of my father … could start with When I was an infant he challenged me. I also don’t think you need the last sentence I detested that laugh……. It is painful enough and the extra sentence makes it shut down the feeling. The following three pictures are not as strong as the other images.

Your work is sensitive and thoughtful, you have some beautiful images and moving text. My feedback is aimed to refine the feelings you aim to express. I am looking at the work not as a personal document and its significance to you in relation to your experience but how that then communicates outside yourself. It is engaging but I would increase the ambiguity (like your opening image). Its a matter of removing a few words and a few images to intensify the longing. Hope this is helpful.

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Leigh-Anne’s feedback

Leigh-Anne James is a recent graduate with a first in Photography BA (Hons) from UWE. I asked Leigh-Anne because she has just passed through the ‘system’ and would likely have a well developed academic underpinning for providing critique.

This has a really strong message!! I think the narrative is really well written to go alongside the images. I think it intrigues the reader and if you had the descriptor with this body of work I would try to ensure it was read after seeing the images with the narrative.

There is a strong contrast between the elusive and mysterious landscape shots, that are beautiful but have a sense of sadness about them, and the bleak and clinical shots of the rings and cufflinks. Almost like imagination versus reality?

In the words of my mentor Shaun… “Is it a book?” I know we discussed how books were being made a lot by my course but I think the narrative could make a wonderful short book. I think there would be something in the page turning to reveal more of your memories. I think it also makes a good digital piece as you scroll down you reveal more of the story? I can’t imagine it as prints but maybe that’s because I haven’t got them in front of me??

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I also sought feedback from Tom Cox whom I know as a practicing artist involved with art in the community and who has just completed an MA in Social Sculpture at Brookes University in Oxford – his blog-site is here – https://tcox76.wordpress.com. Tom provided some early critique into both how the work might be received and also some practical advice regarding presentation which I have included in my work.

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Project Descriptor

I keep looking for him. I think I always will.

This work deals with the relationship I have with my deceased father. Through various phases of my life I have faced success with greater trepidation than failure, for failure was a constant prediction and, therefore, more readily welcomed. Despite many clear and very obvious personal and professional achievements my learnt responses to them have always been negative. This work is the first structured correspondence into a relationship that has maligned many events in my history. And whilst he has been dead for nearly twenty years it is this burdening legacy that I have confronted here.

Purgatory is an unsettled space a few miles from my home in North Oxfordshire. I found a trigger for this project there because it had both physical and emotional resonances at a time when another potential success loomed (the final project of these studies). My technique was to try and elicit an image with the eye and then ‘find it again’ in the viewfinder. I wanted to respond to the image in an emotional way, fully aware of why I was in this ‘place’ called Purgatory. These images have very distinct personal connotations, which I recognised and composed for, seeking that ‘Punctum’ that Barthes talks about but, rather than in a photograph, I sought to find it in the making of the image.

In Purgatory I went searching for unspecified imagery that would become specific, to see if I could find, through the sub-conscious, a ‘Punctum’, fully aware that the context of the image is rested within only one person and perhaps might never resonate elsewhere. And whilst I had been focused solely on that bondless father and son relationship I now realise that the work, in its construction, reflects also on it’s meta-narrative, love.

The work comprises views of the land in and around Purgatory. Intertwined with these perspectives of the place I have introduced artefacts from a box supplied by my mother. This small box of items was given to me as a response that I made to look at whatever physical objects had survived him – this appears to be all that’s left of him. My mother didn’t want the box or its contents returned, in which I found an interesting corollary with worth/value. They were of no monetary value, nor it appeared any emotional substance – she was happy for them to leave her as he had done nearly twenty years previous.

I am principally concerned with relationships, personal and close bonds, both intergenerational and otherwise. Ideas around the presence and absence of love and how those twin perspectives might be described and illuminated. Purgatory deals with love at a meta-level, but from a single perspective, no account is made of an others view – either his, my mothers or indeed, a detached observer and this may form the basis of further research.

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Artist Statement (November 2015)

John Umney’s project – “I keep looking for him. I think I always will.” – provides a psychological response to an environment inextricably coupled with memories from his past. Currently completing an undergraduate degree in Photography with the Open College of the Arts, John Umney has previously exhibited at Nuffield Orthopaedic Hospital permanent artspace May/June 2015 and the South Street Gallery, Churchill Hospital, Oxford July/October 2015 and will informally present his work for critique at the upcoming Family Ties network conference in Glasgow in Nov 2015.

Assignment Two – (post feedback) in readiness for Assessment

Assignment Two – Publication proposal

Image part of the “Indistinct images” series I began in 2016

I have always had the sense that for me to comprehend what it is that I am trying to say at any point, that I need to say it out loud. To continue to discuss with myself in an on-going conversation that almost seems to fear resolution, but volubly expressing it has generally been my way of calibrating what it is that might be concerning me. And so I know that not only is the work at the end of this course a significant expression of that conversation, but also it’s eloquence has been developed and its scope more focused with a deeper sense of its place – because of this course. And this is where I might use the term ‘impact’, that in a deeply personal sense I have found something that I want to centre my practice around. That’s where ‘my ambition’ is. I have something that is beckoning me as much as I feel I am driven towards it; success for me will therefore be how I feel it has been described, not whether the artworld has felt any kind of minor tremor.[1]

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I have recently received an invitation to participate in a seminar where my work “I look for him, I think I always will” has been deemed to fit the underlying theme of the event – which is concerned with ‘landscape and autobiography’. The event will be staged in late July and it presents an ideal, if somewhat earlier than expected, opportunity to make my work public. And therefore this assignment will plot the course to that point in time.

The first task I have is to prepare and supply a short text on my practice, how it relates to the theme of the symposium, which I suspect will be used to contextualize the event for marketing purposes. I have not been informed of the scheduling of the event, my chief concern will be to comprehend the presentation time allotted and begin the editing process to accommodate. The event has this: The symposium will consider how contemporary landscape practice has shifted from its pastoral traditions and embraced more nuanced and personal approaches and narrative strategies…”

I am supposing at this stage that I will receive some more information about the schedule – when I need to provide material, what time I have etc, but for course purposes I shall work under the premise that the presentation will need to be ready 1 month beforehand and therefore Assignment Four of this course will need to be complete by the 1st June. I will take advice regarding Assignment Three

One of the chief lessons I have learned through the Body of Work course is that I should expect to edit my work to fit the occasion. The work for assessors met a set of needs that was different for the web incarnation and I should expect to reconsider the sequencing and narrative flow of the work for this symposium. I am fortunate in that I have presented to audiences of many types multiple times and the one thing I am absolutely sure of is that I cannot predict the response of that audience and that I will need to have some flexibility in presentation, if not material, on the day.

Other Avenues

The recently created website at www.johnumney.co.uk has provided me with an opportunity in that I have submitted the BoW project – via a link to the website (and accompanying words – to Source magazine for publication consideration. The guidelines for submission are as follows http://www.source.ie/main/submissions.html. I have received a response from the editor on the 14th March thanking me for it and suggesting that it normally takes no less than a month to consider work. I am under no illusions about the likely success, though I am grateful that he has acknowledged receipt. I am hopeful nonetheless that in the rejection letter, he might provide advice about moving forward which will then feed into my practice. If I am very lucky to be selected I suspect that the editor will either want to meet – that is the usual process from what I understand – or send representative prints. Either way there will need to be a set of prints for inspection, most of which already exist at exhibition quality (however I expect they will continue to collect dust).

The website has received comments, mostly positive, and my plan is to leave it to rest for a few more weeks, after which I plan to introduce my “Legacy” blog site which will be the chief mechanism to add new work to the site. I feel the website to be a vital means by which I introduce my practice work to interested parties as well as new work in progress. I will need to consider the style of the blog in respect of how ‘student-like’ it is, however I currently see it as a natural development in building the practice.

One of the chief ways I have been able to develop is by nurturing a network. It is abundantly clear to me that my work has developed by having other students/tutors and practicing artists critique my work, and by doing so it has helped me to build a framework of contacts that I can turn to at critical moments. The website provides a platform and the blog might provide an interface, but at this stage of my development as a practicing artist I fully appreciate that constant effort will be vital in developing a sustainable network. I am also aware that I have concerns about how far to ‘push’ a network, something I could/should address with my tutor, having the feeling that under-stressing a ‘node’ would be better that its polar opposite.

The artist talk: is till my favoured approach and the event in July mentioned above clearly provides that opportunity though I haven’t completely “written-off” Family Ties Network and I hope to attend their next event in June, though no firm date seems to have been published. I sense the need for a long-term investment and involvement. The “Network” could provide an opportunity for Assignment Three regarding work experience, but I have to have that conversation with my tutor before committing to any ideas.

My work

I see the short-term future as taking advantage of the opportunity at the symposium, whilst continuing to develop new work that will shape the longer-term aspects of my burgeoning practice. I see the symposium both as a vehicle to present the BoW but also as an opportunity to preview newer work coming through – see https://vimeo.com/159936337 and https://vimeo.com/160073694 . This could be viewed/presented both as accomplished work as well as on-going development, perhaps under the umbrella project term ‘Legacy’.

“My work though considers interpretations and responses to personal memory, much as Gibbons reminds us: “in the way that Pierre Nora expresses in the notion lieux de mémoire referring not only to places but to events or objects”[2].  I’m interested in the malleable, capricious and fallible nature of memory and how what is vested in the subconscious continues to reinterpret for us in the present. How the temporality of memory is found so often to be wanting; confusing us with what Freud called memory screens. Allowing and encouraging environments that supports the pathological impulse to seek and record.”

I’m thinking of the above as a first shot at “describing in a few sentences” what my work is all about.

Budget

My thoughts about costs are that it simply isn’t easy to apportion direct costs to the work; rather it would be better/easier to consider allocating those costs to the practice. The website was developed after I opened a new contract with my web-supplier and which costs me just under £2 per month for the next twelve months and then about £5 per month – I say ‘about’ because I fully expect another round of negotiation. However the ‘ball-park’ is about right. The webs-site was designed using Muse under an “Adobe Cloud” contract that provides significant discounts for students. If I graduate and cease to be a student I have two choices, firstly to upgrade my subscription to include Muse thereby allowing me to upgrade the website at will, or simply to decide the website is fine and will stay extant in the form it is when I drop out. I suspect at this stage I will opt for the former.

Having an active website will allow me to add new work as it develops, which brings me to other costs. I was interested to hear of the “Kickstarter” campaign that Michal Iwanowski developed for his project “Clear of People”, I have invested in the project and the book is due in a couple of months or so; however what made it so pertinent is the timing of it all. I went to see the exhibition when it was at the ffotogallery in Newport in early 2014 and the show has travelled a long way since then before becoming a book project, and that length of time echoes something I have been thinking about with respect to “I look for him…”. I feel my BoW project is in a continuous sate of flux and will continue to develop, so apportioning direct costs to it, at this stage, will be difficult. Of course if I get the opportunity to exhibit I will certainly consider that very closely and it is that stage when it will drive the costs significantly I suspect – despite having exhibited all of the landscapes already at the South Street Gallery in Oxford and those costs (printing/framing etc.) can be deemed as “written-off”.

So my chief investment at this stage will be time and effort (travel costs notwithstanding), though if things develop from where they are currently, it might be pertinent to consider myself more as a ‘freelancer’ in respect to tax etc. – but I think from that perspective I am somewhat under the radar in respect of earnings from my work.

Conclusion

It seems clear to me that by supporting the project, by taking opportunities to discuss the work and, in a sense, believing in it, that the work will find a way to emerge. One of those ways of supporting it is by continuing the work and by making it available. There are other ways to publicize the work, enter competitions, contacting other periodicals – both physical and ‘on-line’ presences, as I have the sense that editor’s are continuing to search for new work. In some ways it might be said that the work might gravitate to where it is best suited, but that will depend on impetus and energy that can only come from within.

Attached is the publicity sheet for the Seminar: “New Pastoral Paradigms: Explorations in Landscape and the Self”, held in Bank Street Arts – Sheffield, July 2016. The following became my associated text on the sheet:

“Family ties and place also underpin John Umney’s I keep looking for Him – I think I always will, which uses landscape photography as a vehicle to reflect on personal memory and autobiography. Using the relationship with his deceased father as a starting point, John explores the complex nature of the father-son relationship through the combination of text, personal artefacts and landscape images set in an unsettled place in Oxfordshire called Purgatory.”

New Pastoral Paradigms

Obviously I feel very encouraged by the opportunities that are developing, it will be up to me to make best use of them.

[1] From my SYP course blog entry January 11th 2016 https://sypjsu.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/concerning-assignment-two/

[2] Contemporary Art and Memory: Images of Recollections and Remembrance – John Gibbons

My website now contains a blog: https://johnumneyblog.wordpress.com

 

 

Posted

I have been keeping a physical journal as part of Assignment Three SYP which has now been sent to my tutor to accompany the essay attached here. I shall continue to keep the journal until it needs to sent for assessment along with the rest of my material.

So, apart from receiving feedback and any modifications, it is just a matter to assembling all the course materials together in January for assessment in March.

living-the-life-pdf