Our main concern is that we want to continue to see regular involvement in the meetings; not necessarily huge numbers or the same people coming every single month, but enough to provide varied and meaningful feedback discussion for those who do attend. We had previously tried to achieve this consistent interest by running collaborative and research projects, one of which culminated in a group show, as well as hosting a series of speakers. Whilst these had been successful in many ways, it was noted that numbers were starting to drop off throughout 2014. Feedback from the survey and analysis in our discussion tonight suggested that aside from practical reasons like timing, this might be because the format had become a bit too formal and structured. We also felt that some people who had dropped in to see what we were about found it difficult to engage with a group who was already involved in a project spanning several sessions. The main thing we concluded was that due to our focus on these additional activities, we had started to run out of time to for informal critique on practical work; the very thing we originally set up to achieve. Without wanting to make accidental political references, it was unanimously agreed that the key to the ongoing success of the group was in going ‘Back to Basics’ and refocussing on this critical discussion as the primary function of the group. One suggestion was to have less frequent but longer sessions, possibly meeting for a full day every 6 months; however it was decided that meeting for the same length of time but at only slightly longer intervals would be more practical. As such, we shall be moving to a bimonthly schedule. We hope this will allow those who wish to attend a bit more flexibility in meeting other commitments as well as feeling that they can still be fully active in the group, at the same time as giving everyone a bit more space between meetings to make progress on their projects or develop their practices.
We also plan to be less rigid in formatting any other activities. Whilst we intend to continue supplementing our critical conversation with events such as speakers, topic specific discussions and skills sharing workshops, we will arrange these in a less structured fashion on a month by month basis. The bimonthly move should also make it easier for us to organise things such as gallery visits at times outside of the established meeting pattern. We agreed to stick to the Last Wednesday of the month 7-9pm standard as it was generally felt that there was never going to be a time or day where everyone could be present anyway and there was not a significant bias towards any other specific option in the survey feedback.
Photographer and artist Kevin Linnane shared a new series of images generated in WW2 pillboxes. Titled Cave Art, these photographs document existing features inside the structures such as graffiti, combined with his own interventions; charcoal drawings referencing nude studies by various masters. These initiated conversation about the relationships between the intended function of these spaces and those who have used them, both in a defensive role and as a hiding place for less formal, non-military secrecies. The act of voyeurism is highlighted through inclusion of architectural details such as the windows and gun ports as well as the subject matter of the graffiti and the nude studies.
I also shared some developments in a tangential series of paintings, outside of my previous work in a Social Practice discipline. Currently under a working title of The Serenity Series, these paintings are developed from the Peaceful Places collection of photos that I took in China and Japan during 2013. The discussion these generated was less around the practical or physical features of the pieces but more about my own feelings of self-indulgence around working on pieces that didn’t seem to have as much function as the socially orientated projects. Whilst Kevin felt he could identify with having experienced this, James and Renate questioned the origin of those preconceptions and argued that the act of producing a creative outcome could be at the same time enjoyed by both the artist and the audience. A perfectly reasonable statement, yet not one I have fully resolved into my own practice!