Category Archives: Idea Development

Final Proposal & Risk Assessment

As mentioned in an earlier post (date) I had drafted up a proposal for the exhibition as a starting point.  Following input from fellow exhibition members during group meetings in March 2014 the proposal was updated  as follows:

COUNCIL HOUSE EXHIBITION

An artist as curator exhibition between the students of Plymouth College of Art’s third year BA (Hon) Fine Art, Critical & Curatorial Practices including Jess Bent, Maddy Crossley, William Danby, Sarah Hughes, Kath Howard, Helanie Moore and Tiffany Smith, in collaboration with local artist Lee McDonald.

TITLE

The Future of Plymouth

OBJECTIVE

The theme of this proposal has been inspired by the enthusiasm and ambition of recent years in developing the city of Plymouth into a cultural centre of exciting and innovative activity for residents and visitors alike.

This exhibition will focus on transition, change and looking forward toward the future. However, Plymouth is also a city rich in history and heritage, something of which the community is proud of and gives the city an enhanced and multi-faceted prominence.

“Study the past if you would define the future” – Confucius

With this in mind, the artwork to be placed within the Council House foyer will work toward demonstrating a futuristic, avant-garde quality while highlighting the traditional internal features of the 1950s building.

The main piece eight (2014) will be a sculptural viewing device [dimensions: 2.5m(L) x 1.5m(W) x 2m(H) approx.] to be placed within the centre of the foyer space. This will be a fully functioning sculpture that can rotate 360° allowing visitors to interact with the artwork. Through observing the space, we recognised that the foyer is a central hub that connects the surrounding rooms that affords a transitional quality. The sculpture will act as an intervention within the space – changing how one navigates through the foyer without causing obstruction.

We feel the audience participatory element is an important factor, giving the spectator an active rather than passive role, as well as a sense of empowerment and engagement. As artists as curators, we have also taken into account that the building is a formal space of serious nature and individuals visiting the building may have feelings of anxiety and trepidation. By placing an interactive piece within the space we hope to ease visitor concerns and give them back a sense of control and belonging, creating a positive impact on the audience.

The piece will be directed toward the engraved tablet commemorating the history of the reconstruction of the Plymouth. This will allow the viewer to consider the city’s historical nature, but also abstract what they are viewing. The sculpture will focus on certain parts of the tablet, mirroring and patterning the selected text by use of internal reflectors. This kaleidoscopic effect will act as a metaphor for Plymouth’s multi-faceted historical and contemporary magnitude and emphasise the importance of the city’s heritage in directing its progress.

The sculpture will be accompanied by 8 wall pieces [dimensions: 60cm x 60cm] comprised of digitally manipulated images of several of the listed features within the Council House Building. In line with the nature of the sculpture, these images have been abstracted using an 8-sided kaleidoscopic filter. The pieces evoke a sense of curiosity by obscuring some of the original characteristics of the space, including a section of the engraved commemorative tablet.

The works included in this exhibition are intended to represent Plymouth’s history as a platform in developing its future.

On March 25 2014 Jess drafted up a Risk Assessment for the exhibition:

Click here to view Risk Assessment

Jess Bent had also suggested asking the Council as to whether there would be a possibility of advertising the exhibition on the Big Screen in the Piazza.

Now that we had the final proposal and risk assessment drafted up, I sent an email to Judith Robinson with these documents attached on 2 April 2014 along with a jpeg file of the floor and wall plan I had drafted up for their information:

2 April email to Judith Robinson ref proposal and risk assessment. Image available from:https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#apps/judith+robinson/14521f929273b137
2 April email to Judith Robinson ref proposal and risk assessment. Image available from:https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#apps/judith+robinson/14521f929273b137
Floor and Wall plans drafted up by Helanie Moore and attached to above email
Floor and Wall plans drafted up by Helanie Moore and attached to above email

As mentioned in the email we also made inquiries regarding:

  • Date of installation
  • Dates exhibition open to the public
  • Transport of artwork
  • Advertising exhibition on Plymouth’s Piazza Big Screen

Proposal – draft

On Tuesday 4 March 2014, I was advised that our tutor wanted us to have a proposal for the Council in the next 2 weeks.  I decided to type up a very rough draft as a starting point as follows:

COUNCIL HOUSE EXHIBITION

An artist as curator exhibition between the students of Plymouth College of Art’s third year BA (Hon) Fine Art, Critical & Curatorial Practices including Jess Bent, Maddy Crossley, William Danby, Sarah Hughes, Kath Howard, Helanie Moore and Tiffany Smith, in collaboration with local artist Lee McDonald.

THEME

The Future of Plymouth […as outlined by Councillor Penberthy…but I’m sure we can choose our own title hopefully…]

OBJECTIVE

The inspiration behind this exhibition proposal has been motivated by the enthusiasm and ambition of recent years, in developing the city of Plymouth into a cultural centre of exciting and innovative activity for residents and visitors alike.

This exhibition will focus on transition, change and looking forward, toward the future.  However, Plymouth is a city rich in history and heritage, something of which the community is proud of and gives the city an enhanced and multi-faceted prominence. 

“Study the past if you would define the future” –

Confucius

With this in mind, the artwork to be placed within the Council House foyer, will work toward demonstrating a futuristic, avant-garde quality while highlighting the traditional internal features of the 1950s building.

The new works will be made by recycling materials to further emphasize the idea of promoting an environmentally friendly and sustainable future in Plymouth.

The first piece will be a vibrant […by this, I mean the colour – which still needs to be decided, as black may be a bit too formal…blue/orange?] sculptural viewing device […measurements…] to be placed within the centre of the foyer space […we need to visit Council Building to measure the central space to make sure of size and position…].  This will be a fully functioning sculpture that allows visitors to interact with the artwork […risk assessment will be needed…].  We feel the audience participatory element is an important factor, giving the spectator an active rather than passive role, as well as a sense of empowerment and engagement.  As artists as curators, we have also taken into account that the building is a formal space of serious nature and individuals visiting the building may have feelings of anxiety and trepidation.  By placing an interactive piece within the space, we hope to ease visitor concerns and give them back a sense of control and belonging, creating a positive impact on the audience.

The piece will be directed toward the engraved tablet commemorating the history of the reconstruction of the Plymouth […this is just an idea – the tablet is in the centre of the back wall between the two display cabinets…].  This will allow the viewer to consider the city’s historical nature, but also abstract what they are viewing. The sculpture will focus on certain parts of the tablet, multiplying and patterning [?] the selected text by use of internal reflectors [?].  This kaleidoscopic effect will act as a metaphor for Plymouth’s multi-faceted historical and contemporary magnitude, and emphasise the importance of the city’s heritage in developing its future.

Change of direction: Kaleidoscopic Viewfinder

During our discussions on 14th February, Lee had mentioned the idea of creating a viewfinder which would focus on small sections of the Council House’s interior features.  After thinking about this further, I mentioned the idea of giving the viewfinder a kaleidoscopic effect to further abstract the Council House features and give the viewer a different way of looking at the space.

Screenshot of my suggestion of a kaleidoscopic viewfinder on Facebook Group Page. Image taken from: https://www.facebook.com/groups/590137997731082/
Screenshot of my suggestion of a kaleidoscopic viewfinder on Facebook Group Page. Image taken from: https://www.facebook.com/groups/590137997731082/

As the idea of cladding the walls was going to be too costly, we decided to concentrate on making a sculptural piece – namely the viewfinder and discussed this at a meeting in Studio 11 on Monday 3 March.

After looking at the plywood which was available at Studio 11, we felt we could utilize it to make some of the viewfinder and set to work in creating basic plans.

Sketch drawn by Lee McDonald & Will Danby
Sketch drawn by Lee McDonald & Will Danby. Image by W. Danby, 2014

Lee had mentioned that the cost of mirrors for the internal kaleidoscopic structure would be expensive, however Will suggested that we could use some reflective film which we had salvaged previously.

Will Danby sketched out some rough plans and we decided to create an 8 sided viewfinder to create an octagonal cone shape and we measured the plywood accordingly.

Will Danby's sketch of measurements
Will Danby’s sketch of measurements

We also discussed the colour and initially thought about black.  However, we felt that black may be too formal and might come across as a bit intimidating.  We had previously mentioned using blue to compliment Plymouth as the “Ocean City”.  Lee also suggested orange – as it would be something bright, colourful, unexpected and create a strong visual impact

Will later made a smaller scale mock-up of the cone and posted images on our facebook group page:

Small scale viewfinder mock-up by Will Danby
Small scale viewfinder mock-up by Will Danby. Image by W. Danby, 2014

Wall piece – materials

After I created wall plans from the measurements taken, I decided to work out how many square metres of mdf/plywood we would need to clad the Council House walls:

Council House square metres

From these calculations. I worked out that the entire wall space we would be using would be nearly 85 square metres.  Unfortunately, we have no funding for the project although our tutor Edith Doove said if we did a budget for materials she may be able to see if we can get £50.  However, the standard size for mdf is 2.44m x 1.22m and if we needed to buy all new, it would work out that we would approximately  need 30 sheets for entire area.  After looking into pricing with Totem Timber, we would be looking at approximately £6 upwards for each sheet at trade price.  Therefore, this idea would be far too costly and ambitious for the exhibition.

I asked Martin, the Studio 11 technician if there were any old pieces of mdf/plywood available to use.  I was advised that there was some sheets which we could use but they would be at varying degrees of condition.

Lee also suggested that we could try using cardboard, however we, as a group felt that this may not create an aesthetically pleasing looking unless it was perfectly accurate.

31/01/2014 – Lee McDonald discussion

On Friday 31st January, I attended the exhibition opening of Peter Randall Page’s work at Peninsula Arts and Plymouth Museum & Art Gallery.

During my visit a bumped into artist Lee McDonald and had a brief conversation regarding the Council House project and discussed the following:

  • I asked about the possibility of using one of his existing sculptures – such as Sonic Reverber, 2012, because of our limited funding. However, he said that it would be possible to create something new by using the materials already in his studio.  As mentioned in an earlier post, Lee has “breathed life” into defunct mechanical objects so to speak, by recycling objects to create new kinetic pieces.
  • He was concerned about timescale, but when I advised that the exhibition was due to open on the 24th April, he felt this was certainly enough time;
  • I mentioned that we as a student group were keen to make some pieces to compliment his work and he also mentioned that we could perhaps collaborate on a new sculpture.

I advised my fellow students the next day and we decided that once we knew the date of our visit to the Council House, we would arrange to meet Lee in his studio to get a further idea of the materials we could use and what we actually would like to see in the exhibition.

Lee McDonald, Kinetic Artist

Following the student group meeting on the 16th January, I thought about the prospect of working with a kinetic artist for the Council House project.  Although I have used kinetic mechanisms in some of my own artwork in the past, I do not feel confident and fully equipped or knowledgeable in producing a working, professional piece which would last the duration of the exhibition (which I expect to be for several months).

Thus, later that evening, I recalled earlier conversations I have had with Southwest artist Lee McDonald during Plymouth College of Art’s Ephemeron, “Artist as Curator”, Critique Event at Karst in April 2013 regarding his sound pieces – particularly his Sonic Reverber pieces.  (Lee also has a studio at Karst, Plymouth.)

Lee McDonald, Sonic Reverber, 2012.  Image available at: http://www.leemcdonald.co.uk/sonic-reverber/
Lee McDonald, Sonic Reverber, 2012. Image available at: http://www.leemcdonald.co.uk/sonic-reverber/

After visiting his website again to refresh my memory, I could see that Lee is predominantly interested in the mechanisms of objects and explores the reactional processes and properties of such objects i.e. pushing their capabilities and possibilities in terms of physics and sound (McDonald, 2014, online).  

Lee is also interested in audience participation and although there may be a restriction on sound pieces, there is still the opportunity for movement.

He also uses many recyclable materials or “dead” mechanical objects i.e. objects which have had a live use but are now defunct.

I personally feel that his pieces would work particularly well in the Council House building because it would be completely unexpected.

Lee has showcased his work in gallery spaces, as well as festivals and it seemed that he has a positive attitude  in bringing his art to new audiences.  Much of the art on display at present in the Council House is fairly traditional and Lee’s kinetic work could  literally “liven up” the somewhat serious nature and atmosphere of the space.  I also feel this would be an excellent opportunity to promote discussions regarding art and its environment – especially as the student group are looking at the role of the artist as curator.

I mentioned asking Lee if he would be interested in the project to my fellow student group members and received a positive response from them.  On this basis I emailed Lee a week later and received a reply back, advising that he would be interested and suggesting the group meet up to discuss.

Untitled
Contents of email sent to Lee McDonald artist

 

Reference:

McDonald, L. (2014) About [online] Plymouth: 2014 Lee McDonald.  Available at: http://www.leemcdonald.co.uk/about/

Council House Building: Ideas Discussion with Student Peer Group 16/01/2014

On Thursday 16th January 2014, the BA(Hon) Fine Art, Critical & Curatorial Practices students discussed the curatorial opportunities and possibilities to be undertaken as part of our CURA300 assignment.

We were yet to have specific dates for when the Council House exhibition would take place, so we discussed possible themes and ideas.

As mentioned in my earlier post,  I had initially thought about the word “hub” and its meaning, with regard to the axle and movement.   I presented my idea to the group and the relevance of how Plymouth City Council has become more and more supportive of the arts in recent years – moving forward toward a more creative future.

I suggested a way of possibly demonstrating this would be through some kind of kinetic sculpture, which would perhaps be completely unexpected within the traditional environment of the Council building.

My suggestions seemed to be met with positive responses from the group and we went on to discuss possible ways of moving this idea forward.

We discussed the possibility of either making a sculpture ourselves, commissioning an artist and/or borrowing work from Plymouth Museum’s collection.

Other ideas and problems which we may encounter were discussed as follows:

  • sound – no loud sound can be used because meetings take place within the building and this could be disruptive.  However, if a video/sound piece was used, headphones could be used to allow audience members to listen to works without causing a disturbance;
  • lighting – the Council House lighting is artificial, with no direct natural light.  The group discussed the possibility of using filters or screens over the lighting to change the intrusive lighting.  Also suggested was whether kinetic mobiles could be hung from the ceiling or lighting.
  • video projection – if a film/video piece was used, the work could relate to the Council House’s existing relationship to the sea (each room is named after a ship and there are already large model ships within the space) by projecting a video onto a sail.
  • funding – we were unsure whether there would be any funding for the exhibition and briefly discussed methods of generating funding i.e. Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/) and crowdsourced funding initiatives.
Student Group Initial Ideas for Council House
Student Group Initial Ideas for Council House

The student group confirmed to work on the Council House exhibition, including myself is:

  • William Danby http://danbynation.wordpress.com/
  • Maddy Crossley http://madelainelouise.wordpress.com/
  • Kath Howard http://kathhoward.wordpress.com/
  • Tiffany Smith http://tiffanysmithcura.wordpress.com/
  • Sarah Hughes
  • Jess Bent http://jessicabentcura300.wordpress.com/