Ian McDonald Mima.

Whilst back home spending  reading week cracking on with the dissertation, I had the pleasure of taking in an artists talk at MIMA with renowned photographer Ian McDonald.
I have known Ian for many years, he being an Art teacher at my secondary school. 
His work is renowned for it's harsh yet beautiful, monochrome portrayal of the North of England, in particular the rough industrial plant's of the Teesside area, which I live close to.

Relevant to my dissertation in the fact that he is a Northern artist with success both in his homeland and in 'The City', Ian's talk which incorporated a documentary made on his work by his son Jamie, was particularly enlightening for both my academic work and my practice itself.

I love the way that Ian manages to inject beaut into the most depressing and dark of landscapes.

as an interdisciplinary artist, I often like to take in talks by artist's of various backgrounds, but feel that this talk has been made even  more relevant by my recent work and inclination to use photography not neccesarily as a photographer would, but as a tool to capture my thought processes and concepts both as they develop and as a way of creating what I feel will be my finished work.
This image is a perfect example of what I initially strived to create within my work, and essentially what white cube galleries create - 'solitude'.Which is even more remarkable when you take into account the landscape it was taken in.
In his talk after the showing of his documentary, Ian talked about how he is influenced by Renaissance painters within his work. Noting that several painters use photographry as a basis for their work, Ian curiously employs the reverse in his practice, making drawings of images he intends to photograph, before loading up his box brownie, as a way of planning and ensuring the precision and success of the subsequent image.
McDonald achieves something which has been a constant intention of mine throughout this piece, forcing the focus onto uncompromising landscapes,in my work this was achieved through the use of a 'prop' in Ian's case employing his skill as a photographer and also in Ian's work gifting beauty to them.


Why am I doing what I am doing?
Over the past few weeks I have been continuing research and thinking in an attempt to further refine the idea at the heart of my work and essentially define it.
In the two recent presentations the responses have been mixed, with elements of curiousity and praise mixed with confusion and misunderstanding, it seems that essentially whilst my work has been succesful in it's execution and aesthetic, it is merely my intentions that need clarifying.

I have been more than pleased with my aesthetic - the object, the landscape and the way it is shot, but for the past week or so have been in the new position where upon I like my work, but feel it needs more meaning, or at least the meaning needs to be clearer.
I now feel like it has become more like an episode of 'Mad Men', how should my work be thought of? how should it be displayed?
Whilst still major and by no means a small matter to address, I am pleased with how my practice has developed, rather than having ideas above my station, I now have a station above my ideas, which although confusing it may be, will only take the simple matter of addressing my motives to solve it.

Having never been too confident in explaining my idea's, the presentations whilst informative in terms of advice given to me, where also difficult for me to explain my concept clearly, which with work that is essentially 'conceptual' I saw as a huge stumbling block.

 This merely boils down to answering questions.
-What is the Work?
What does the space represent, does it represent anything, or is the landscape evocative and the lack of a section of it the state men?
all rhetorical as the I feel the work should be.
Like great songwriters never revealing what their lyrics were really about I feel that the mystery of the work would be lost if one clear concise message that the work should achieve existed.
From it's origins the work has been about intrigue about why is this 'alien' object here? With many questions following, each giving new dimensions to the work and crafting some narrative unique to the individuals interpretation.

-What is the history of the Work?

whilst giving me the starting point for this concept, it became clear from quite early on that the White Cube idea had become paradoxical and would limit the final outcome of my work to

-What is the relevance of the Work?

-What is the intention of the Work?

-What am i interested in achieving from the work? 
This is not a manifesto just a loose way of signalling my influences and my intentions - put simply I want to create unpretentious work that will get people to think.What it will get them to think about is down to the interpretations of the viewer, as the old addage 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', I want the thoughts and emotions of the piece, as much as possible, to be determined by the viewer.

What do i see when i look at the void.

what should this be called? blankspace is a working title

the images- atheism - the lack of something such as a section of imagery, has an effect that the lack of a part of the image becomes the focus and point of questioning.

What makes my work stand out against Sugimoto's or other work's of similar aesthetics?

one thing that has constatnly reared its head on this Gide project is the curiousity surrounding the object, is it real or photoshopped? obviously I attempted to answer this mystery within my experiments and believed that the object should be real, purely for aesthetics as the photoshopped attempts looked naive and obvious, although I also personally felt that being in the landscape itself, as I would be anyway if I was taking pictures, was heightened by positioning the board in strategic places and the emphasis on one of my original intentions of making people more aware of their landscape was realised by myself when creating the work, again the confusion continues, how do i use what I've found t be successful in terms of creating photographs, whilst still having the same degree of intriguement of the landscape.
An initial idea when talking about my work for the first time, was how presenting the work with little information, like Sugimoto's, would allow the audience to create their own narrative, which really interested me in terms of curating their imaginations. A criticism of this was that i needed to be clearer on the motive of my work as previously expressed - can they purely exist as images of intrigue? images designed simply to gain meaning, rhetorical photographs asking questions that have no right or wrong answer? This is where I feel my work is and where I like it, with as much mystery as possible in order to garner as much intrigue as possible and with the Exhibition of current work only a month away, the realisation of these 'rhetorics' ironically needs to be answered.

Like Pawson instilled this into his architecture, Danielewski into his writing, i know need to be able to get this across in imagery, the easy choice you may think in comparison tho the other mediums but a lot more choice adds a lot more distraction and less chance of there being the clarity and simplicity i originally imagined, and still feel the work needs, to be present.

'Presence Through Absence'

John Pawson.

I first became aware Pawson's work when I visited the design museum where he currently has an exhibition.
An Architect, Pawson is associated with his minimal aesthetic often employing crisp geometric shapes within his designs
Using his work to both emphasise a landscape whilst not belittling it, Pawson's work whilst simplistic is the result of immense consideration
Here in his architecture he has managed what I was looking at in my previous test images, symmetry within a space, in particular the focus on the centre of the image and the sense of what a void/blank space has on a viewer, or in this case resident.

Down Sarrrrrrrf.

I spent this weekend down in London primarily for dissertation research, I am looking out Art within the North/South Divide but I was also able to take advantage of being able to visit major galleries, the Tate being the most rewarding for me in terms of hosting work relevant to my current focus.
(<Here are my tourist photos!>)


Ai Weiwei
Alongside the impressive work was a video documenting the process behind creating the installation. 

Acting more as a curator Weiwei, considered every aspect of his work
comprised of 100 million sunflower seeds all crafted from porcelien and hand painted by residents of the city of  Jingdezhen whose inhabitants are often jobless and jumped at the chance to work for this unique opportunity,

Weiwei and the curators encouraged visitors to walk across and roll in the work to experience and contemplate the essence of his comment on mass consumption, Chinese industry, famine and collective work

The relevance of the sunflower seed comes from Chinese tradition and also has political leanings with paintings of  Chairman Mao often featuring the flower as a symbol of .

Hiroshi Sugimoto
I was also given the chance to view the work of Sugimoto, who I previously researched, up close and in the flesh.

It was interesting to note that he had chosen monochrome photographs as the best way of displaying work.

Displaying them as you would expect any photograph to be, which although may seem like the easy route for me to go down in my own displaying, fitted the work perfectly.
So this option for me is not completely out of the question, and at this point it is my preferred way, but I'm not at the stage to make such large decisions yet and feel that even if I did opt for the photography option the ways of displaying the work are endless, as shown in the photography gallery here at the Tate.

It is cmforting to note that Sugimoto's work has been displayed with very little known about the motive he intended to achiveve through this work and this in regards to me shows that I could achieve this aswel, but i know understand that although my intnetions don;t necesarilly have to be broadcast with m work, i must have intentions whilst making the work, for one to make the work stronger and two to give me greater pride and interest in my own practice. It is now getting to the point where I need to start creating work with my intetnions present rather than jsut meer test pieces

Another relevant artist I hadn't previously come across was Czech artist Jiří Kovanda.
Kovanda's intentions it appears in the work pictured, is to subvert what is to be expected in a traditional landscape, low and behold this takes on the form of a white cube.

I am finding it interesting to note that whilst the work of myself, Sugimoto and Kovanda are very similar in their aesthetic's our original roots and idea's come from very different places

What I Intend To Do.

doodles from your notebook
Over reading week I need to have decided exactly what I want to achieve from my website and what I want the aesthetic to look like.

In all honesty I am very happy with how this blog is going, i terms of ease of use, aesthetic and accesability. All I really feel I am lacking is a more clear and concise homepage that gives more detail on both how I am and how to contact me, as well as a place to showcase work that isn't surrounded by ramblings of the like you are reading right now.

I will look at convenient ways of doing this, but at the moment can see myself employing dreamweaver, as this is the software I used last year which I found simple and effective and creating a customised layout.


Whilst the majority of computer users have a Facebook page, it is often overlooked as a tool in a professional capacity, but you only have to think of the sheer amount of potential viewers to be reached in the Facebook spectrum to realise how much of a valuable resource it could be if treat the right way. Through interaction on sites like this it is impossible to develop a good online relationship with interested parties and through regular updates keep them both in the know and also help them understand your practice better.


Facebook is where you lie to your friends, Twitter is where you are honest with strangers.

The thing to remember as with which website/blog service to use, is the relevancy of the social media format used.
Services such as twitter, due to their diary format and character restrictment are usually used as a place to post links to current work or in terms of participatory art request interaction.
For work such as mine where I am looking more for the work to be viewed in a method i determine, Twitter does not seem such a relevant option and although I can see it being invaluable for some artists practices, it is not, I feel, for me.

Above is my own Twitter Profile which I use to keep updated on the latest news following 'Tweeters' such as Guardian and BBC, and also to learn of current exhibitions and happenings in the art world using users such as...
Creative Review - which also prompts you to featured articles within the latest issue, which allows you to get up to speed without forking out for the magazine itself.
Dig Yorkshire - Is particularly good for keeping up to date with the latest events around the county and I have found out about many opportunities this way.
Vice - whilst sometimes cringe worthy in it's opinions, does host links to some relevant artists.