‘A Place Beyond Belief’ (Project 3: Place in art – Case study)

A Place Beyond Belief by Nathan Coley

  • What is your first response to this piece?
  • What questions are you going to ask in order to make sense of the piece?
  • What type of work do you think this is? How would you define it?
  • What do you think the text is about?

 

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Fig. 1. Coley, N. A Place Beyond Belief (2012)

First reponse

My first response to this is to focus on the meaning of the illuminated text, given its position next to a christian church.

  • A church is the centre of worship for christians. They have faith, which is sometimes referred to as belief. Arguably faith is beyond simple belief. A person may believe in the existence of God but a person of faith may feel that their belief defines many aspects of their life, their decision-making, etc. In that respect the church represents something beyond belief.
  • Churches have, however, have been at the centre of many scandals in recent times. In that sense the expression can be seen as pejorative. The church and its actions were ‘beyond belief’.
  • Unfortunately, another initial response was to be puzzled about how it could be categorised! I would describe as an installation.

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Katie Paterson (Project 3: Place in Art – Exercise 2)

“Have a look at the work of Katie Paterson. In particular consider: http://www.katiepaterson.org/vatnajokull/

“How would you define this piece in terms of media?”

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Fig 1. Paterson, K. Vatnajökull glacier (2007-08)

I decided to start with Vatnajökull (the sound of) and then look at her work more generally.

Vatnajökull (the sound of)

I undertook the exercise quite literally initially and so listened to, and researched a little about, Vatnajökull  (the sound of) (2007-08). The idea is truly brilliant. We are given a mobile telephone number to call, which would allow us to hear the Vatnajökull glacier melting. In effect we are being asked to listen to what global warming sounds like. There are however, so many layers of thought behind the work. (Sadly, the number no longer works.)

The melting of glaciers is something that doesn’t happen close to many of the world’s inhabitants. Given the very fixed position of Vatnajökull , Patterson brings the melting glacier to us. This in turn changes the nature of the ‘place’ of the glacier. We are connected to something that was distant, but is now close and so fits within our realm of experience and comprehension.

The effects of global warming work on a much slower timescale than human timescales. Another effect of this work, therefore, is to shrink time. We can hear global warming happening now, within a 30 second telephone call rather than watch time-lapse images and/or diagrams illustrating the effects.

Paterson’s choice of this glacier for her work is also interesting. According to the Glacier Guides website (2017), Vatnajökull  is “…by far the largest glacier in Iceland and the largest glacier mass in all of Europe…” It goes on to say, “Like so many other glaciers around the world, rising temperatures and reduced snowfall mean that this ancient icecap is melting. In one of the most recent reports from the Icelandic government’s Committee on Climate Change, it warns that by the next century, Iceland’s glaciers will no longer exist.” So Paterson has chosen the largest glacier in Iceland to allow us to experience climate change with a sense of immediacy and proximity; in our place at this time.

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Richard Sweeney Exhibition

INTRODUCTION

Whilst visiting Chester Cathedral recently, I happened upon an installation by Richard Sweeney, accompanied by an exhibition of his smaller works. He was unknown to me before this visit.

Sweeney’s website describes him as seeking to maintain “…an experimental, hand-on (sic) approach, utilising the unique properties of often mundane materials to discover unique sculptural forms. He has lectured at universities internationally and regularly holds workshops to share his knowledge of paper folding and construction techniques.”

Reflecting upon his work raised various questions about art. A subsequent visit to the Towner Gallery (in Eastbourne) to see A Certain Kind of Light raised similar questions. I have therefore, linked the two blogs together. At the foot of this one there is a link to A Certain Kind of Light, where these questions are considered.

The next section of this blog looks at Sweeney’s work, whilst the subsequent considers my responses to his work

SWEENEY’S WORK AT CHESTER CATHEDRAL

Metamorphosis
Fig. 1 Metamorphosis at Chester Cathedral (2017)

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A Certain Kind of Light

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INTRODUCTION

I visited A Certain Kind of Light exhibition at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne. Subtitled, Light in Art over Six Decades, it will come as no surprise that the subject matter was light!

Although a small collection of work, it was also a fascinating one. I wish to look at some of my favourite pieces from the exhibition and two that I struggled with.

This blog is intended to link with my last one regarding Richard Sweeney. It may be found here:

https://joeatoca.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/richard-sweeney-exhibition/

No catalogue was available for this collection, but I was permitted to photograph the work (I used my phone’s camera).

The next section of this blog looks at some of the work, whilst the subsequent considers my responses to this and Richard Sweeney’s work.

THE EXHIBITION

towner fig 1 words

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Fig. 1. Reflections on Anish Kapoor

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Difficult Background – Grayson Perry

Fig. 1. Perry, Grayson. “Difficult Background” (2001) – two views

Fig. 2. My sketches – Top left sketch of a girl, top right sketch of a boy, below are some observations about the pot

Introduction

The Brighton Museum and Gallery has a Grayson Perry pot, Difficult Background (2001), on permanent display.

I wish to discuss it for two reasons. Firstly, I like Grayson Perry’s work in general and this pot in particular. Secondly, I was struck with how the pot was described.

The pot is in its own cabinet and sits in a corner. It is, however, on a revolving plate which allows all aspects of the pot to be seen. On both of my recent visits to look at it, however, the revolving plate wasn’t working. This had the effect of hiding about one fifth of it.

The cabinet carries a description of the pot. It says:

“Difficult Background, 2001, appears to refer nostalgically to childhood, with figures of children playing, dressed in 1950s-style clothes. However, a closer look reveals scrawled images of terror and war: burning buildings, blasted trees, naked figures running screaming from others carrying rifles. A girl presents an apple to a boy over a fallen signpost labelled ‘lost innocence’. Perry thus makes a powerful statement about the atrocities of conflict.”

I would agree with all of that but I was surprised that the description did not pick up on another aspect of the work. I will, therefore, discuss the piece in a little more detail and then return to the above description and consider other interpretations.

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Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave (Assignment 1)

Assignment 1

This assignment is a submitted piece of work so is saved as a PDF.

It is in three parts:

  • Part A – A brief reflection on my learning on this course so far.
  • Part B – An interpretation of Jeremy Deller’s Battle of Orgreave, looking specifically at time and place.
  • The final part is a self-evaluation.

I should say that I think that this work by Jeremy Deller is extremely interesting and it was a joy to write an assignment about it.

Please click on the link below if you are interested to read it.

Assignment 1 – Joe Haywood 516004

‘Place – The First of All Things’ (Project 3: Place in Art – Exercise 1)

Exploring Art

Read: ‘Place – The First of All Things’ by Tacita Dean and Jeremy Millar

List artists mentioned and look at least one piece by those whose work incorporates text.

1. Notes

Ian Hamilton Finlay

Finlay I H The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans - 1985

Fig. 1 Finlay, I. H. The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans (1985)

I find this piece quite baffling. This image was taken from the Tate’s website (see list of illustrations below). In the text that accompanied the image, it was explained that “Despite its ruin-like appearance, Finlay’s sculpture was in fact specially made in its present form.” The text goes onto discuss various aspects of the context of the work, in particular that this is the first part of a sentence which concludes, “But the memory of the Romans fills it. They go on prophesying liberty.”

This exercise has asked whether the pieces have any relevance to ‘place’ and how they reference it.

The piece is quoting a reference to the Romans but “The World” as understood by the Romans was not the planet, it was largely Europe, North Africa and those parts of western Asia abutting the Mediterranean Sea.

The sentence is attributed to Antoine de Saint-Just, a military and political leader during the French Revolution. In terms of place, there is something curious about a revolutionary leader of the 18th Century referencing the Roman concept of the world. Whatever his aims and ideals for the French revolution, the quote suggests an antiquated sense of what he felt the world was or could become, which is underscored by the old and damaged appearance of the stones.   

 

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