A number of things struck me concerning my participation at the Symposium in Sheffield. Firstly that despite my student status I seemed readily accepted as a peer in the company of the other guest speakers, and also that I felt comfortable in that guise. It’s not that I would have been deferential previously, more that I would have felt my voice would have been less authoritative, less rounded; whereas now I feel confident in the work as a ‘work’, its conception, narrative and direction seemingly and that comfort provides me with a sense of agency as an artist – albeit a fledgling.
The exposing nature of standing up in front of an audience and talking about a work, perhaps one as personal as “I keep losing for him. I think I always will” was always likely to be interesting for both listener and myself. I had tried a number of ‘dry runs’ beforehand – which I will talk about later – and each time I did so it seemed to reveal new narrative eddies within my delivery that came unexpectedly and sometimes revelatory. It was comforting to have these new ideas coming to the fore during the talks as it was one of my main hopes for the talk. One of the critical differences between an exhibition and a talk is that feeling of exposition. To allow someone else inside that carapace that exists in a “white wall” space where the artist is missing. Talking about the work, as opposed to simply hanging it, is, I have always found, revelatory and the experience at the Bank Street Gallery was one where I felt the work to genuinely interest the listeners, I was engaged by a number of the audience in the break directly after my talk, during the lunch break and after the talk closed. I feel sure the work touched a number of those present and that inspired them to discuss their thoughts with me which in turn made me think more about the work, it’s direction and outcome.
Other positive outcomes: I met three artists with whom I now share a common event and whose work I find really interesting, perhaps the more so after hearing them both ‘off-record’ and on-record’ talking about their work, their inspirations &c. Additionally there is talk of a follow-up exhibition with work that responds to the symposium’s narratives, if that happens it will be fantastic. I also hope to find the chance to collaborate with another artist either as part of that new exhibition or as a new work.
On my personal performance I was slightly disappointed that I seemed to finish the project talk slightly earlier than I had planned – there were still a few slides left to roll through which I stood back from to allow to happen before introducing some work that represents where I have started to research and make work. On a positive note, I was told that I didn’t seem to rush (but I know I forgot some items I had planned to deliver) and many came up to me to express their thoughts about the work. So I am sure my rehearsing paid some dividends. The projector was very bright and some of my images seemed ‘blown’. This unfortunate circumstance was mitigated by having the actual work in the “Wooden Box” for interested viewers to review, I am pleased that many appeared to do so.
The set of talks was video’d by the College – who sponsored the event – and will provide an excellent review opportunity to study and critique. I will also update my cv on my web-site to incorporate this event and hopefully add an image or two from the day to illustrate the new blog ‘Indistinct Images‘.
It was also very warm and quite stuffy. The sandwich lunch was excellent and the hosts were extremely accommodating.