Milly Peck // Artists’ Lunchtime Feedback

In this feedback session we began looking at Marina Jacob’s work consisting mainly of drawings and sculptures which prompted us to discuss, amongst the myriad of obstacles there are to making art in the current socio-economic and political climate in the UK, the question of pleasure.

Is it morally or ethically sound to take pleasure in the physical processes of making art? Does work become less culturally valuable or less powerful if the artist has enjoyed making it? Or is this clinging to a stereotyped and outdated idea of an artist who must suffer for their work? We talked about the guilt or awareness of responsibility attached to using materials, particularly those which are non-recyclable. Is it possible and necessary to translate or apply a degree of material frugality to an art practice, which we may or may not already carry out in other ways in our day-to-day lives?

This discussion of sustainability continued in relation to accessing technical facilities and processes provided within educational institutions and the potential difficulty of maintaining these techniques beyond studying as well as the dangers and inevitable pleasures in being ‘seduced’ by materials and new technologies.

Catherine Stephenson and Beth Hopkins introduced their ideas around a project they are hoping to work on collaboratively on the subject of mental health and the stigmatisation of people suffering from or recovering from mental health illnesses. They particularly want to address how mental health is not an issue for a select few but something that can affect anyone of any age in society. This similarly raised interesting and important questions around participatory projects and the ethics surrounding the use of people’s private experiences in public projects and the ways in which this could be addressed most sensitively. We also talked about safeguarding and how in socially engaged projects, not only the welfare of the participants should be at the forefront but also the emotional wellbeing of the artist/artists involved.

Looking at Fernando Holguin’s paintings, we talked about the importance of dreams in his selection of imagery and where conscious and unconscious decision-making comes into play. We also discussed the thin lines between humour and horror and the use of the caricature in the depiction of real human subjects in his paintings. The question of ethics arose again in relation to disclosing information about an artist’s processes in making work and how you can alter the reception or understanding of work depending on the degree and manner in which these processes are framed or unveiled.

Lastly, Patricia Bibi’s linocut prints brought us back round to discussing new techniques and processes and how straying from what you feel familiar and comfortable with can lead to series of productive experiments and advancements or can simply be a distraction. We also talked about how self-imposed limitations such as restrictions of size, colour, where you source images from or even the types of materials you use can free you in other unexpected ways.

Whilst all the works discussed were at different stages of development and in different forms, the topic of sustainability in relation to both the material and ethical concerns of an artist’s practice as well as the question of pleasure were definitely what I will be thinking about beyond this session.