Show and Listen

During a show and listen a piece is exhibited in a exhibition environment and unlike in a public exhibition where I would generally get next to no feedback, here I am allowed to take a step back from the discussion and listen intently to what my course mates think about the piece; receiving an in depth critic of the work. It is so useful when moving forward with a piece and allows you to see what others think about the work without them having any prior knowledge of what your practice is about.

For this show and listen I wanted to show a more resolved piece and as I said in my previous blog post I wanted to re-work the piece I had exhibited in The Classroom Gallery- My 34 Lillieshall Road. Having already set up the piece before this gave me a chance to re-work the piece with more confidence. In the show and listen I changed the setup to a contemporary home setting. Someone remarked that it was “like a scene from IKEA.” I enjoy the modern reference made here to the furnishings chosen. During the classroom show the furnishings had been a mix of eras which I think suited that space however the contemporary feel here established the correct era I had had my experience with house. One of the tutors posed the most intriguing question for me as she wondered; Why not more? Why not wallpaper etc? This was something I myself had questioned in the setup; whether or not it needed more. She reflected that my choice of furnishings was just enough to help trigger the imagination but not too much so that the viewer’s imagination was controlled. The home setup triggered the imagination but the text itself was where the audience created their story.

One main point that was mentioned during the show and listen that I really kicked myself for not thinking of was tuning the light off in the room and only displaying the work at lamp light! The piece could have been more intimate to the viewer this way! It could have created a cosy atmosphere and even played on the idea that when I visited the house it was dark outside. In the photos you can see that I have experimented with this afterwards. Whether or not this then becomes a little too creepy is another thing.

Something which was a huge concern for the audience was their torment in whether this was fact or fiction. This was something I hadn’t even considered. To me the piece was obviously completely real. I had been to the house; this was my experience there. There was no doubt in my mind. They however kept coming back to the question “Do you think she actually went to the house?” This was something I thought of as a negative, as though I hadn’t quite convinced them, however perhaps this just adds to the mystery, adds to the notion of the private v public. Why would someone want to know so much about one house? In terms of proceeding with the work, people suggested visiting other peoples homes, my experience there, other writers, artists etc. One person commented saying the work could benefit by the work being more personal to me; so visiting homes of my past. To me though there is no interest in either of the two. No one would care about my history in a house more than a history of a famous person’s house. This piece to me was more concerned with the layering of lives in a house, any house; this just being the example of one. This finalized the piece for me. I don’t want to carry on creating similar versions. I want to carry on making work that carries with it the sense of a past of a layering of lives in a home.


“Photo frames are used to frame our most treasured memories, yet the walls of our homes frame almost all our memories.” –Rachel Fenwick

I’ve taken this sentence out of my artist statement but it’s a sentence I’m really proud of and really like the sound of.

There’s No Place Like Home.

28th February- 14th March 2013

The Classroom Gallery is an up and coming art space in Nottingham. A newly established gallery on the 1st floor of Hopkinson. There was an open submission for a response to the exhibition title No Place Like Home. When I saw the exhibition title, I thought- perfect! This exhibition is right up my street! – excuse the pun. My current practice revolves around the home; I ask what it is that makes a house a home? I explore the layering of lives within a home, the lives that have touched those walls and the repetition of memorable moments that have taken place there. I found it hard to chose a piece to select for this exhibition however my newest work My Lilleshall Road lent itself well to the notions of home, in particular the layering of lives within one house.

The piece is something I have blogged about before here;

My Lillieshall Road is a response to a book I read by Julie Myerson, who herself is from Nottingham; the text of the work explains the book briefly- She tells the stories of all the people who ever lived in the 130 year old house she lives in, in Clapham, London, She re-tells the personal stories which went on there and her voyage to find them. The piece is my experience and my impact on the house, my very short history I now have there. The frames I have used are widely used in most modern homes which emphasizes the time I have had my experience with house and also plays with the notions of home, the use of home furnishings which we use to frame our memories.

When it came to installing the piece into the space it became something more than just the idea in my head. I had been wanting to display this work in an exhibition environment for a while. I wanted to create a home atmosphere/setup around it, I had thought about adding a lamp to highlight the text, as well as play with idea of the home. It was very easy to add extras to the piece surrounded by the vintage furnishings at Hopkinson. I used a vintage corner table to hold the frame of the text, brought a touch lamp from home, then to contrast with the modern lamp, I used a 70’s style lamp shade for it. I had intended the entire piece to reflect the era in which my short history of the house had occurred, however playing around with these furnishings I began to like that the furnishings reflected an array of eras that the house had undergone; a sort of mish mash of fashionable furnishings. I also felt that because the idea had developed from it’s original contemporary plans to a much more quirky intention, that the piece could benefit from including the book itself. Invite the viewer to look at the book, flick through the pages, look at the photographs and see my underlining of notes.

The next move for this piece is to exhibit at Uni in a Show and Listen this Thursday. I am going to see how displaying the piece using modern furnishings affects the audiences perception of the piece.


Enter Rachel’s Mind

Really wanted to write because for the first time in ages I’m feeling positive! Mostly because of an uplifting conversation I had with a lady I’d never met before today! Get to that in a minute though. Over the last few days, I’ve been in Bristol with a lot of time to myself. I’ve been watching lots of home programs- one in particular Home Stories- I’ve learnt a lot about gentrification in London (Up and coming areas and the impact this has on house prices) and the consequences this has on the poor. I’ve been thinking a lot about the home and developing ideas that have been sprouting over the last month. Before Bristol I began my get up and go attitude by starting the wallpaper piece I had been going on about doing for months! I found an old piece of wood in the studio, hammered that into the wall in my studio space and began to make that studio space mine. I have brought in my table from home, placed my little ornamental house on it as a mascot and began to feel a bit more settled.

I’ve started the piece, only painted a tester tub of magnolia on there, put started it none the less. I am slightly worried about using this thin mdf wood because for this piece I intend to layer, layer upon layer of wallpaper over one another. I know from past experience that the wood will probably curve under the pressure. Ideally a plaster board would be my best bet- something to improve on. Layering the layers of wallpaper I hope to narrate the past histories of a fictional home. I want to make this piece as authentic as possible, having done a similar thing before I know the mistakes of not thinking everything through. (Strange to see how similar my wording is a year on from the previous post and I’m still having the same thoughts!)  I want the fake wall to be based on a living room- so only living room styles and the layers need to be in era order. So the fashions of the 70’s for example need to be before the fashion wallpaper of this era. Once the wallpapers have been layered up. I then intend to scrape into the piece to reveal “a hole in the wall” so to speak, revealing the layers of lives that have gone on in this fictional home. This piece is going to be very much an “on going” project. I have placed an ad on free cycle and already collected one free roll and then coming back to the lovely lady I met today- Lynn, I bought a real vintage wallpaper roll from her at Hopkinsons today. It is much harder and more expensive than I first anticipated but I think it will all be worth it! To increase authenticity I also have been thinking about the collection of dirt on the walls, smoke collecting and leaving frame marks- all things I’m thinking about! An interesting piece could be creating these forgotten frame marks. I think it would really emphasize the point of “a time gone by”.

Whilst I’m on a roll here about sharing my ideas. Reading George Perec’s- Life as a User’s Manual. One of his short stories quoted; “Soon the old flat will become a charming pied-a-terre, two recpt. + bedr., all mod. cons., open outlook, quiet. Gaspard Winckler is dead.” Although that might not make a lot of sense not read the whole story however the point here is that this man Gaspard Winckler died and he’d lived in that a house, had memories in that house. Then those memories are striped and the home becomes a sale, just a bunch of words that make the house sell-able. This notion was brought back to me as I spoke to someone really close to me about a relative who has passed away recently. The family have now began to remove his possessions and redecorate the house. It seems so sad to come in a gloss over those memories; wipe them away with a thick layer of magnolia. Just as when someone new moves into a home they want to put their stamp on the place eradicate the previous owners. I want to do a piece in response to this create a room setup only of magnolia furnishings, walls and coverings.


Also wanted to write about really freezing Berlin! I went to Berlin thinking I was going to be overwhelmed with art and I would really love art again. Got to say- didn’t have that effect on me. On the whole I felt pretty much like Karl Pilkington the whole Holiday/Study Visit. It was very very cold, snowing and -7, so that didn’t help. I found Berlin very grey and overall pretty scary if I’m honest. I did see some pretty good art whilst I was there though so thought I would post the photos on here, along with references. I particularly liked the exhibition hosted at Hamburger, Bahnhof really enjoyed the work of Martin Honert, Gregory Schneider and Elmsgreen & Dragset.  Martin Honert’s work related fantastically well to the ideas I have had about memories and the photograph portraying these memories. This was particularly apparent in Group Photo of Prefects. I loved the photograph being brought to life into 3D form; it really emphasized the flatness the usual photograph has. It also bought home that even in its 3D form the moment is still. It is just a moment in time- one brief moment; these figures are still and stagnant. I’m glad I experienced Berlin, I learnt the history of a terrible time and I also experienced a pretty fantastic night out there too I guess!

Fine Art Degree

It’s pretty hard going doing a fine art degree. Going through a bit of hating the course/loving it at the same time over this last month. I have felt a bit lost lately on what I’ve been up to and where my work has been going. Been looking through my blog though and trying to not feel too stressed about it. I’ve actually done a lot this year, so I don’t need to put myself down. I have had my work in three public exhibitions, had my reviews published on Backlit’s website and began the amazing project with Future Artists Nottingham. So not bad at all Rach! Plus looking at the archives on here, the amount of work I did past March last year was amazing so just need to remember that and get cracking in the next few months! Here is my statement of intent which is to be set into motion as of now!! BACK TO THE HOME!

     During the next module I want to establish a clear focus within my practice. To allow my practice to move forward in a much more manageable way I know I need to break down what it is that really drives me and what it is that I am passionate about. I intend to keep to this focus point. During the previous module I was sporadic, exploring various notions regarding the need for painting in contemporary art and the obsessive need for photography in the digital age we live in. I now know that this was too much to take on. I am still questioning these notions, especially the digital age, and the reduction of privacy technology has meant for us. However the underlying passion of my practice has always been the home.
    Within my practice I intend to focus on the notion of the home, what it is to create a home, the nostalgia based there, the layering of lives that form there and the privacy and security that that space gives us. The layering of lives within a home is something that has become especially of interest to me whilst reading Julie Myerson’s book- home. She tells the stories of all the people who ever lived in the 130 year old house she lives in, in Clapham, London. It was of real interest to me to hear the repetition of lives, of celebrations and memorable moments that have all occurred in one house by numerous people and families. I want to explore various ways in which to respond to this- looking at Rachel Whiteread’s casts; especially, Untitled (Twenty-Four Switches), exploring the lives that have touched those walls, memories that have remained in those walls. I will use archives and microfiches in the library to explore the history of our homes. Also graduate from Trent: Adele Boden, is also someone of particular interest to me. She relates to previous ideas I have had about creating a piece using wallpaper layering the wallpaper to have the effect of the house itself. This is something I have attempted before but would like to do this much bigger and more authentic.
       Reading a book currently by Witold Rybczynski, I am learning the history and the functions of the house and home. I am exploring the historical, social and cultural differences the home as under gone over time. This knowledge I am hoping will allow my practice to explore the functions of the home and discover how a house becomes a home. Wider reading of Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and Species of spaces and other pieces: by George Perec will also be useful here.  
        In terms of making I want to continue to develop work that the audience can interact with. I believe this can be done using installation and setups of actual rooms; an artist I saw in Berlin who relates well to this is Gregory Schneider and also Martin Honert. I also want to get back into casting, perhaps looking at creating model homes based on the paintings of Amy Casey. I need to make/draw/sketch/paint much more in this module as a means to develop my practice and to further ideas more rapidly. The exhibition piece needs to be much more resolved and experimented with to reach its full potential.

Future Artists Nottingham

Over the last couple of months I’ve been working on an extremely exciting project with fellow group members- Alisia Wilkins, Caroline McDougall, James Politano and Helen Rowland. We’ve created our organisation- Future Artists Nottingham! An organisation started together to work with schools, providing workshops that we hope will encourage pupils to further an art based subject post GCSE and to give them the chance to experience what it is like to study art at degree level. We’ve planned some exciting workshops over the next coming months working with a year 10 GCSE class at Nottingham Girls Academy. The penultimate workshop will  be hosted at the Nottingham Trent University itself were we have organised a print screen workshop for the girls. The project will conclude with a fantastic display of the work done by the pupils. We have arranged for this exhibition to be held in the Atrium, Bonington Building, Nottingham Trent University. This is such a fantastic opportunity for these young girls and we are proud to play our part in it!

Last Tuesday was the first of the workshops! It was so exciting to get in there and start everything we had been planning! The workshop was a challenge for the girls as much as it was for us. It was all worth it though, to be there in the classroom experiencing it all first hand!

We have started a blog for all the workshops which can be found here:

The majority of the projects experiences with the class will be posted on there however I wanted to mention it and may keep updating a little with photographs on here.