Re-thinking the Body: New work inspired by UCA’s archive- Artist Statements

Re-thinking The Body
New work inspired by UCA’s archive
November – December 2015
Elaine Thomas Library

Re-thinking the Body aims to explore different ways in which disability has been represented and (mis)understood in society and culture.

Kim Cruickshank-Inns, BA Three Dimensional Design ‘Welcome’

Are we losing sight of our more sentient human qualities? Many people are currently forced into seeking asylum from war zones. Historically asylums were places people deemed mentally ill were confined away from society. Benches and tables are spaces where we can choose to spend time alone or share communally, often with strangers. Both can be commemorative, their placement being carefully selected.  We all need a small exterior corner of the universe to feel safe in, even though the physical location may not be of our choosing.  Feeling safe internally depends on individual psychological and emotional resilience. It is not only the place and how we feel, but the attitude of others that makes for safety and security.

Kim Cruickshank-Inns work 'Welcome'

Kim Cruickshank-Inns work ‘Welcome’

Joslyn Hobbis, BA Fine Art ‘Different, Not Less’  

H57cm x W167cm digital print on paper

My work was inspired by my experiences of interacting with people with invisible disabilities, as well as those with more obvious ones.  I wanted to show how at any given time you may be interacting with any number of people who have a disability and sometimes you not be aware of it.   Some people may have an intellectual disability, a medical issue which is not immediately apparent, Autism, or a mental illness as well as many different kinds of more obvious disabilities.  All are worthy of inclusion in society and we should help those with difficulties to be a part of our world as well as strive to be a part of theirs.

People who are different are just that – different – not less.

Setting up exhibition 31

Alli Inwards, BA Illustration ‘Origins’

Mixed Media (thread drawing on foam board, collage, acrylic, corkboard support)

Articles with titles such as ‘Lesbian erotica on show – By Women for women’ and dated dot matrix style printed documents referencing Sylvia Pankhurst’s socialist activity were in the archival box that provided inspiration for ‘Origins’. Borrowing from ‘L’origines du monde’ (Courbet), this illustration is by a woman primarily for the female gaze. Copies of archive material are juxtaposed with other historical and contemporary references around the focal point of a vagina.

The principal goal with this image is to arrest the viewer, to start a conversation – it is not intended to be a piece of wall decoration. The conversation is as much about Illustration and the role it has to play within the body of a largely fine art dominated world, as it is about women – especially women within the male controlled media and art world. It is unashamedly feminist; it is not misandry.

Imperfections and the ‘unpolished’ nature of the work are intentional and a reaction against the unrealistic, airbrushed versions of perfection that relentlessly present themselves to females of all ages in magazines, digital media, ads, even in selfies and profile photos. Related to this is awareness that the postmodern era of art may be giving way to a new ‘ism’ grounded in authenticity. What will this mean for women as individual, as a collective, as artist and as subject?

and what could it mean for Illustration?

Setting up exhibition 32

Daire Lawlor, BA Illustration

I come from a family of medical practitioners, and so I have grown up around hospitals and doctors and nurses my entire life.  Talk about medicine has been a staple part of my growing up, and as someone who suffers from chronic recurring depression and insomnia, constant visits to my GP are something of the norm.  This project allowed me access to the archives where stigma was present and art was made into a conductor of emotional resonance for those who suffered.  During my research, I began to wonder, how can I reflect the trials of mental illness?  Is it necessary to show the face at all, which initially had been so important to me?  In the end, I wanted to create something that was uncomfortable to look at, that was empty inside, hollowed out, and drained from the constant need to put up a front.  Mental illness renders you invisible to society, and yet also considered a burden.  In this piece, I wished to explore the feelings of otherness, powerlessness, seclusion, and, through the perception of others, the loss of personhood and autonomy.  

Daire

Susan Merrick, MA Fine Art  ‘She’s in a nightie and so forth’, (subtitles: Troll tweet to female MP/Female causes of insanity, Politician arguing against suffrage/Tweet from male MP to female MP, The 17th century rape exemption used until 1991/US Senator speech about marital rape/ Corinthians 14:34-35/Pope’s speech)

Understanding can never be assumed. As the French philosopher Derrida discussed many times, words only ever have meaning in relation to the other words that they are used in conjunction with or in relation to. What we say, what we do and even who we think we are is described by language. Language that can be interpreted and reinterpreted, corrupted and changed beyond all intent.

As a professional Interpreter I’m placed in a position of privilege and power in relation to this very aspect of understanding. The power to have control over the interpretation, the meaning and intent.

I have begun to explore texts, letters, reports and articles from people within power in history and compare the beliefs and prejudice that I saw to contemporary society. With this I am starting to ask; Do we ever have full understanding of the intended meaning of a message or piece of text? What happens when we see it out of context? From a different source, or translated in an unexpected way? Does it gain or lose power? Do meanings of terms stay the same through time? Or do we simply apply our current understanding to them?

Exhibition set up

Madeline Sparrow, MA Fine Art

With art I find it easier to translate my thoughts and emotions, for communication is a weakness for me. This goes back to my dyslexia; some part of me feels like an outsider because my sense of language differs from others. I suppose it is the child-like empathy, which is why art gives me creativity from the difficulty in communicating, especially in written language. Art welcomed me into a warm embrace to continue speaking out loud with a visual noise of colours. Some have critiqued my style, but I conclude that it is my own Madeline-ish madness in the moment.

I became inspired by UCA Archive to re-think my narrative art. I questioned myself in how my body is a mechanical object in writing. I felt merely typing or handwritten was not enough to thinking beyond my own movements. Instead of the process in making, I want to reflect on how the audiences would use their bodies in part of the narrative. I thought about the visual appearances and the energy to read. I felt Braille was a unique development in the creation. Due to awareness in disabilities and the harsh word beginning with ‘Dis…’ I want to remove this ‘disadvantage’ of who we are.

Abilities are a strength in which we learn and grow in knowledge. I felt that those who can read Braille are advance to the power of this secretive language in which appears in everyday life. The Braille is not about the dots, but the space surrounding them. As the artist who wrote these narrative and have not the ability of actually read Braille, yet, I felt as if my words were simplified into an extraordinary pattern basis. The aesthetic feeling of movement of my finger around the space and dots became curiosity at its best.

Setting up exhibition 24

Re-thinking The Body – New work inspired by UCA’s archive

Re-thinking The Body
New work inspired by UCA’s archive
November – December 2015
Elaine Thomas Library

Madeline Sparrow, MA Fine Art; Susan Merrick, MA Fine Art (video piece);Allison Inwards, BA Illustration; Daire Lawlor, BA Illustration: Joslyn Hobbis, BA Fine Art: Kim Cruickshank-Inns, BA Three Dimensional Design

Re-thinking the Body aims to explore different ways in which disability has been represented and (mis)understood in society and culture. UCA’s Archives invited students to each produce new work which imaginatively responded to particular areas of our collection, including Tessa Boffin’s Photography Archive, themes related to sexual identity, and the Working Press archive. Participants also took inspiration from material related to mental health, language and terminology of disability, body image, gender roles, invisible disabilities, the idea of labelling, and the materiality of the archive.

Re-thinking the Body coincides with Disability Month (November 2015) and involves current undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at UCA, Farnham.

Participants:

Madeline Sparrow, MA Fine Art

Susan Merrick, MA Fine Art (video piece)

Allison Inwards, BA Illustration

Daire Lawlor, BA Illustration

Joslyn Hobbis, BA Fine Art

Kim Cruickshank-Inns, BA Three Dimensional Design

Curated by Rebekah Taylor, Archivist

Kim Cruickshank-Inns work 'Welcome'

Kim Cruickshank-Inns work ‘Welcome’

The New Beacon Bookshop and George Padmore Institute Visit.

DSC_0221As part of Black History month, The George Padmore Institute ran a black archive event last week. The archive and book shop were conceived by John Le Rose who was originally from Trinidad and relocated to England in the 60s. His aim was to provide information to hand down through the generations to keep black history, culture and politics alive. The collection includes an archive of black activism, the Caribbean Artists Movement, the Black Parents Movement, rare newspapers, journals, sound recordings and ephemera.

DSC_0219 DSC_0220On display were items from the ‘New Cross Massacre Action Committee’.

In 1981, 13 died during a house fire and at the time there was racial tension in the black community which was fuelled by the police’s first suspicions of arson. The committee organized a peaceful demonstration in London of 20,000 and the archive shows a typed document with suggested slogans for the placards such as ‘New Cross massacre police cover up’ and ‘Equal rights and justice for all’.

The New Beacon Bookshop was founded by John as a specialist Caribbean publisher and used as a channel to keep Black culture, history and politics thriving.

Both the book shop and archive are based in Finsbury Park, are open to the public and well worth the visit.

Tiffany Gregory

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‘English Suppressionists’ mailart – language, culture and geography

Zine, English Suppressionists

English suppressionists
‘The English Suppressionists’ is the title of a mailart project and resulting pamphlet by Keith Bates. Printed on vivid blue paper, in a dark blue ink, the zine contains both text and art. Many of the pieces submitted to the project are made up of images alongside words in satirical adverts, instructions and collages.
The artists consider their own cultural identities with feelings varying from candid impatience to critical fondness. The introduction to the pamphlet explains the decisions behind the name ‘Suppressionists’ as this invokes both an association with existing art movements such as the Impressionists and Expressionists alongside a darkness which could hint at ‘the antithesis of art’.
Some of the characteristics of Englishness which are explored are negative traits such as bottling up emotions rather than expressing them, stiff upper lips and other ‘character armour’.
Issues of language, culture and geographical location are all dealt with as part of the project. Jonathan Stangroom’s show ‘Multiculturalism’ brought up the fact that most international mail art dialogues are conducted in English and this is highlighted here in Bates saying that ‘language is not a neutral vehicle for expression’.
The Suppressionists end up taking on a dual meaning, both of the English tendency to suppress expression of emotion and the fact that the dominance of the English language in art suppresses the identity of other cultures.

Events for Disability History Month, November 2015

For Disability History Month in November UCA Farnham Library is putting on a series of events, including film screenings. This includes film screenings  Freewheelers, an Inclusive Theatre group, based in Surrey, who recently collaborated with the Surrey History Centre to produce a series a films relating to the history of disability within Surrey.

The Freewheelers screening will take place on the 18th November – tickets can be accessed here

UCA Farnham Library will also be hosting an exhibition on ‘Re-thinking the Body’ New work inspired by UCA’s archive’, with works produced by UCA students inspired by the archives

Stereotype and Stigma poster with links

Preserving UCA’s Film Heritage

The archive has inherited the student film collection from UCA going back to the early days of the Guildford School of Art whose film unit produced some impressive work with the expertise of tutor KN Singh. As a Film Archivist this is great news for me and I have been enjoying delving in to the collection much of which dates from the late 1960s – 1990s.

filmcansArchive film is a very fragile medium requiring careful handling. Many of the films have suffered from poor storage and have become warped and their colour has faded. The archive is keen to secure the future of the films by storing them correctly and is working with partners to ensure the films are kept in optimal conditions for their long term survival.

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I’ve begun cataloguing the films using a steenbeck and so far the films have covered a wide range of topics. “It Could Happen to You” made in 1981 to mark the international year of disability looks at the everyday lives of a variety of individuals with disabilities either from birth or due to accidents. “The Patient” made in 1977 follows cancer patients and the medical staff who treat them and shows various medical procedures in graphic detail. In contrast “The Day of the Mounties” records the 1969 Surrey County Show with images of Guildford high street and Stoke Park during that period and “The Other Day” circa 1970 is a tale of young love. It’s fascinating to look back at the fashions, lifestyle and viewpoints held during that time.

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The collection comprises some 700 reels of 16mm film and it is our hope that some of the material can be digitsed so that it is made accessible for students and staff to view. It is important that collections like this can be preserved for future generations. Not only do they show the work of past students of UCA but they also capture life in a different era and are in themselves historical documents which if preserved correctly can leave a lasting legacy.

I’ll be posting regular updates as I work my way through the collection.

Carryl Church, Assistant Archivist

Re-thinking The Body

Library and Student Services Archives & Special Collections invite applications from UCA students to participate in a research project leading to an exhibition in the Elaine Thomas Library.  Re-thinking the Body coincides with Disability Month (November 2015) and aims to explore different ways in which disability as physical and mental manifestations have been represented and (mis)understood in society and culture.
Entrants are expected to take an innovative approach in working with and respond to LSS’s extensive archives which date back to the 19th century and comprise sound, video, acetate, photography and paper documents.
Poster design from the Working Press

Poster design from the Working Press

The archive includes different collections – work by artists, such as, the Tessa Boffin photography archive which explores stereotype and stigma (1980s/90s), and the Working Press archive (1980s/90s), a key publishing venture which supported working class writers and marginalised groups in being published.

Participants will be introduced to material available in the archives. They will choose an item, or items, from the archives, and explore ways to respond creatively to or reinterpret that item. To see the material (digital or physical), please contact Rebekah Taylor at rtaylor8@ucreative.ac.uk
Artworks produced should have an imaginative response to the project’s theme and resources within the Archives & Special Collections. Resulting works can be produced in a variety of media including drawing, painting, photography, film and sculpture.
Deadline for participation: 14/10/2015
Deadline for submission: 26/10/2015
The exhibition will take place in Elaine Thomas Library 1 November -1 December 2015 and is scheduled to coincide with Disability History Month.
Submission:  Rebekah Taylor at rtaylor8@ucreative.ac.uk (submission form attached)