Keeping up momentum – Part 2

Zoom workshops held on: 03/10/20 and 24/10/20

Duration: 2 x 2-hours

Tutor: Bryan Eccleshall

Facilitator: Helen Rosemier

Padlet: https://oca.padlet.org/simon512973/7v5xl630sd2dubc3 (you need OCA access to open this link)

This article is a write-up of my contribution and learnings from to a collaborative project run through the OCA.

These two workshops were a follow-on from a similar series that were organised during April 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when lockdown measures were at their strictest.

The objective of both sessions was to encourage collaboration between students and momentum during an extraordinary period of time.

What was different with this second series of workshops was that participation was higher so that students had to be split into smaller working groups that consisted of a cross section of participants at different stages of their respective courses and from different disciplines.

In preparation for the first workshop, students were asked to select three pieces of work that could be used in a exhibition. At the time I’d just completed Assignment 5 from Visual Exploration , so used the outputs of that as my initial image selection.

These were soon discarded when the brief was made more clear.

OCA tutor Bryan Eccleshall provided an introduction and context for the first session before outlining the brief. Attendees were then divided into their working groups. Each group was asked to come up with an idea for a exhibition. How this was curated and the presentational format were completely open for interpretation.

I took notes during Bryan’s introduction that are produced verbatim:
Curation is a collaborative act. Could be:

  • Explanatory
  • Sarcastic
  • Critical
  • Intellectual
  • Beautiful
  • Dense
  • Construct a position. Think about what the work might indicate.
  • It’s never quite perfect. There are always real world problems.
  • Suggest it goes on a Padlet, but could create a book, model, virtual space. You’ll be showing work in the digital arena.
  • Contamination – cross pollination. How things combine to create something new. A group exhibition, looking for similarities. One aspect or facet becomes more obvious.
  • Think about an exhibition title: “Stuff that spins out of now“. “Could get out more“.
  • Curatorial statement
  • Catalogue

My team consisted of myself plus four others:

  • Simon Chirgwin – Photographer (L2)
  • Veronica Worrall – Photographer (L3)
  • Renate – Sculpture (L2)
  • Paola Alessandri-Gray – Drawing (L1)

We spent the breakout session mostly feeling our way towards some kind of consensus on the approach. Nothing substantial was agreed apart from setting up a further Zoom meeting to continue our discussions.

In total we had another three Zoom sessions where ideas evolved and work was shared. One of the initial directions we agreed to experiment with was using a computer programme (developed by Simon), to randomly create pairs of images and pairs of texts. We all contributed approx. 20-images for randomisation.

I timeboxed my contribution to 1-hour of effort and drew as many portraits as possible from timed life drawing practice website: http://reference.sketchdaily.net/en

I chose portraits with expression because i thought that would be the easiest way to ad some narrative into the randomly paired objects. The computer programme randomly matched the images, and Simon presented the outputs back to the team.

We agreed we’d each chose three of the paired images and three of the paired texts to further develop into new images.

Version 1

I decided to redraw and reinterpret the images and texts into a single wide format illustration.

Version 1 of the illustration in a concertina presentational format

You can view a larger version of the image here:

One of my objectives in doing the collaboration was to push myself to take some creative risk. I reflected on the first illustration and thought it was very safe. Apart from producing work on such a wide format and limiting the effort to 2-hours, there was nothing particularly new or risky about what I’d produced.

Version 2

I decided to try again and created another iteration of the images, this time using a completely new visual style.

I really like the work of Argentinian author and illustrator Yael Frankel.

Fig 1 – Fanzine illustration screenshot from Instagram (2020)

I love the simple visual style; how the illustrator has simplified and abstracted the subjects and combined this with a limited colour palette and mixed media texture.

I wanted to see if I could emulate this approach using the random image pairs and my first concertina illustration as the inputs.

The three new illustrations were made in about 3-hours. Each one started as a pen and ink drawing that was coloured in Photoshop. Additional visual elements and the handwritten text were added in the same way.

Illustration 01
Illustration 02
Illustration 03

The second workshop

Each of the seven teams were given five minutes to present the work that they’d produced in response to the exhibition brief.

The final presentational format was a video that was edited by Simon Chirgwin, with inputs from all members of the group.

I produced additional illustrations to create the scrolling gallery space which Simon then animated.

The video presentation is here:

The range of work presented by each team was interesting and varied, but the common theme was how valuable the experience had been.

A picture of Bryan providing tutor comment and support during the Zoom call

Reflection

This collaborative project came on the back of me completing the final practical assignment for Visual Exploration. One of the objectives of that work was use the experimental approaches explored during the coursework to take more creative risk in a self-directed assignment. This meant that the idea of experimentation was in the forefront of my mind. What was interesting about this project was how it somehow gave me the ‘permission’ or nudge I needed to really try something radically different.

My approach to the collaboration was “this is a possibility to really try something new and it doesn’t matter whether it fails or not”.

In the end, I was pleased and surprised at the visual style I used for the final illustrations. I’d been moving in that direction with some of my life drawing and figure drawing, but this collaboration allowed me to turn up the dial a few extra notches.

Observing the dynamics of the team was really interesting. It took a little while for everyone to get comfortable with the approach but it felt to me that everyone in the group was generous and willing to try things out and see other people’s contributions as valid.

Reference

List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Frankel, Yael (2020), Fanzine illustration screenshot from Instagram At: https://www.instagram.com/yaelfran/ (accesseds: 24/10/20)