DAY ONE: Monday 8th February
Red Ball is a project which began in 2011 and remains ongoing. I started it in a hurry – I was offered the project space at Studio Supersaurus in Swansea at very short notice. Studio Supersaurus was set up by four of my former Foundation Art & Design UWTSD students; Owen Griffiths, Fern Thomas, Adele Vye and Aled Simons, as a working space for themselves and a space in which they could host events and residencies.
Here, I was given a very real example of the many exchanges that come from teaching. The reversal of roles suggested by ex-students offering me an opportunity perhaps made me think that I would become the learner. I had had in my mind, for a long time the idea of an installation involving lots of red spheres – that I would be the maker and guardian of these objects.
Red Ball has become a project that stretches across the areas of my practice as an artist and teacher – linking rather than dividing what can often be conflicting activities, each begging for time and attention. It also blurs the lines between disciplines – lines that are now perhaps too heavily drawn in education. It is at its heart a part of my fine art practice and introduces students to the idea of participatory work – but it is mainly manifested through craft and design skills. I have worked to cross-reference the often divergent activities of teaching, research and making, and this has informed the intention and form of my practice.
I have used Red Ball as a project for students over several years and presented outcomes to the annual Criw Celf conference in 2014. Working with students has taught me much - the learning is mutual, shared and ongoing and it has developed active, collaborative and participatory aspects through projects such as Red Ball but also Keeper(s) and CIVIC.
DAY TWO: Tuesday 9th February
The first manifestation of CIVIC in 2014 was an invitation to propose architectural and other interventions for a number of sites across Swansea towards an exhibition at Mission Gallery in Swansea. Artists involved were Anna Barratt, Jason&Becky and Owen Griffiths. Following this, an offsite project for Cardiff Contemporary was organised in 2014 and I commissioned Matthew Otten, designer, to make 100 laser-cut slate dogs. The dogs were displayed at the Civic base Cardiff Story Museum (the old library building), until they were ‘distributed’ by participants on city walks, to be found (or lost) over future days, weeks or years. The design of the dogs was intended to be accessible, a ‘friendly’ object to find, to become part of the city whether found or lost.
Two walks were made through Cardiff – one between the old centre and the dock area, from Cardiff Castle to Bute St, to ask ‘What is History?’ – the other from Grangetown to sites in the city centre to ask ‘What is the Role of Architecture?’ As I walked through Cardiff with selected walkers, they left a trail of quietly placed slate dogs – small enough to be slipped into a pocket or lost forever. The idea of ‘knowing’ the city is considered as a way to address the idea of urban space as simply a series of problems. Could we change the way we see and use city space – to change our experience? Are there ways to create change other than the building of permanent structures? Can we invite those who often don’t have a voice to think about the city? The walks were reported by Denise Kwan through writing and by Paul Treweeks through photographs.
CIVIC has grown from an exhibition into a larger project, a network of practitioners and researchers, in conversation about art, architecture and the city; about cultural institutions, place, space, writing & walking. CIVIC’s investigations and material was used to develop international projects in Venice and New York in 2016 and 2017. More detailed info and images can be found on the CIVIC website www.civicarchive.co.uk
DAY THREE: Wednesday 10th February
Word Room (The Professors Study) was made in 2013 with animator Tim Stokes. It introduces a short sequence of animated text, drawn from a paragraph in Willa Cather’s novel of 1925, The Professor’s House. I animated a paragraph from the book which encapsulated the structure and inspiration for the whole book in a simple description of a room. The purpose was to work experimentally with a text that had been considered in my previous research, in which the study had been identified as one of several particular and recurrent images of domestic space found both in visual art and literature.