Wednesday, 25 June 2014

the art of listening.............

from the series 'Tracing Thames Chronicles' by sculptor Stephanie Rubin

Yesterday I attended the symposium "This Migration" at The School Creative Centre , Rye.

I had no idea what to expect, knowing only that the subject for the day was 'migration' and that resident artists and invited speakers would give their own interpretation of the subject.

Four speakers. Four completely different ways of presenting their work. Inspiring and fresh.

 Challenging subject matter on race, identity, migration and boundaries......and including;

  • Invisible borders created by gender or disease. 
  • The 'capsular civilisation' of gated communities and fenced cities. 
  • The 'lost' city of Ubar in Oman detected by NASA satellite images.
  • the extent of personal data collection by US border agencies.
Potentially heavy topics; unfamiliar and thought provoking.

And what struck me at the end of the day was how important it is to make time for occasions like this that stretch the mind and challenge preconceptions. That bring artists together to encourage and learn from each other. 

Time to listen.

Time to think.

Time for each other.

I had never before appreciated the challenge of sculpting a face; the need for calipers to be used on soft skin; the trust required and the intimacy that evolves during the process; the almost confessional nature of the subject opening up to the sculptor. The stories that are told, and in this case recorded for posterity in the series "Tracing Thames Chronicles".

Tracing Thames Chronicles by Stephanie Rubin 2004
I was struck by the very personal nature of Jamie Griffiths work in general and her current digital 3D video installation that references the collection of data at US borders. 

Her work at any point in time is based around asking herself this question;

'Using only one word, write down the topic or issue that most concerns you or that you are most passionate about at this time in your life'

Food for thought. 

How much of what we create is in response to our attempts to express our current answer to that question?

And how often are we aware of that when creating the work? I am not sure that this is relevant for all artists, but when I stop to consider why I felt the need to make a photo of the small broken shell and pebbles that I carried back from New Zealand, I think that I was probably attempting to answer that question in my own way.


If I  listen to myself I might work out what it is I am really trying to say. Or I might decide that it doesn't really matter. The conversation continues inside my head.

from Tracing Thames Chronicles by Stephanie Rubin

Stephanie's series of heads came together as a body of work some time after she started creating them. Not everything has to be preconceived or rationalised, and as she pointed out, she learnt a lot about her craft along the way.

So I'll  just keep taking pictures and see what turns up. It's a bit  'chicken and egg' in my view. 

the old shed is dead



She said.