Assignment 1 – My Response

NOTE:- I am writing these responses as I await the tutor report on Assignment 4 and thinking about what I am going to work on for Part 5 of the course.

I don’t know how to approach this really but have highlighted areas that I think I need to address and will comment on those.   Firstly I will respond to the overall tone of the report.

It was really difficult at times to engage with some of the exercises from the first section of the Drawing 1 course.   This was because I began to feel I was having to go back to the beginning again and did not know if I have the stamina to continue to engage with the work.   However having realised that the reason I was taking this whole thing was because I had never really done this stuff from the beginning and worked through the various stages – which has over time caused there to be many gaps in my understanding and techniques.

I did get over this and the frustrations of things not working or not being able to concentrate on looking with enough intensity.    Overall I was really pleased with my tutor’s response to my work and particularly the assignment piece which became very personal very quickly.

Most of all I was gratified with the time she had taken in looking at all the work and the learning log and responding in such a full and supportive way.   I have a legacy of not being supported artistically and also a very damaging experience of art school as a mature student which knocked my confidence to the extent that I did no work for 10 years.

Points I have picked out:-

  • Continue to Take More Risks – Not be Fearful of Failure  

This has plagued me all the way through – what are the risks I should take, is it technique, materials, process?   I have found myself moving from one kind of risk taking to another but often having planned to work in a “new ” way not going through with it and resorting to tried and tested ways.   It is difficult to get it “wrong” for me and to believe that there is learning in there.   To do work that is not admired but for its own sake is certainly a challenge.  To this extent I don’t think I have done enough experimentation with mark making, multi-media combinations, sampling, etc.

  • Point of the course is to challenge new techniques, processes and new ways of working

This is of course a reference to the above point and thinking about how far is far?   I feel a bit like a mouse who sticks its nose out of the hole now and again and goes for it across the wide space ahead but spends quite a lot of time looking around working up the courage to take the next dash.

  • More Written Work in Support of Research into Other Artists Work in Support of my Own Studies.

I don’t find writing easy being dyslexic and find my ability to express my ideas and responses can be limited.   Though I love to read I don’t think I have grasped how to use note taking effectively and then how to fit it together when I am writing my learning log. Also I can get carried away with reading (and not note taking) and then jump back into the practical work not taking the ideas with me.

At this stage I am still finding this a challenge and to work out why my tutor has suggested certain artists to look at.

  • Look More closely at Other Artist’s Compositions to Record and Analyse

Certainly STILL not doing enough of this – like everything I do I need to slow down and be more thoughtful rather than immediate with my response.  Too much of I know what I like kind of attitude still prevalent in my thinking.





Assignment 1 – Tutor Report

Assignment 1 – Tutor Report

Overall Comments

Part One Form and Gesture

Thank you for submitting the first assignment for Drawing 1. It is clear that you are completely engaged in your work and you have already a clear and confident voice growing from your work, evaluation and reflective accounting around the work made.

I have identified a small number of things that need to be addressed such as the organisation of your blog but otherwise this submission is strong, articulate and personally challenged throughout. It is clear that you are taking elements of risk but I encourage you to continue to take more. You have identified your preferred way of working but are taking the time to try out new materials and processes. Your sketchbook work is strong and already there appears to be a contextual underpinning of your work surfacing which should really hold the work together when it needs it.

I am unsure as to whether you completed the warm up temporary drawings. If you did please pop a photograph of what you did in your learning log under a subheading so that at assessment these exercises can be found and looked at quickly by your assessors. It is imperative that you do not miss any of the exercises out either from your log, sketchbooks or physical output.

If you put categories on your blog that can be easily identifiable such as Part One Form and Gesture then all the work can then be categorized in subheadings such as Project 1: Feeling and expression, Project 2 Basic shapes and fundamental form and so on. It will help if your title the exercises too above the content so that your learning log starts to get an order to it at the earlier stage as the content as the content will just grow and grow.

Overall this is a very strong submission for the first assignment of Drawing 1. Continue to take the time to develop your ideas and continue to take creative risks. Your confidence will grow and you will be more at ease about the skills you have and are building on within your studies.

Assignment 1 Assessment potential

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Project 1 Feeling and expression

Exercise 1 Experimenting with expressive lines and marks

Designed to be a warm up exercise, you have managed to create a good number of drawings that express anger, joy, love and so on. You have analysed the work well and in a personal way not frightened to be either critical or supportive of the outcomes you have clearly walked head on into the exercises. You have embraced you mediums and techniques well throughout communicating your emotions in a visual and critical way.

Exercise 2 Experimenting with texture

You have clearly enjoyed this exercise and have made some really interesting outcomes. You have evaluated and analysed critically each stage through annotations in your sketchbook so well done, just remember to pop the heading exercise into your sketchbook to keep things organised and clear for others. The works on tracing paper feel very real and raw as well as exciting in their ambition. Scratching into part of the drawing also adds interest so well done with these.

Project 2 Basic shapes and fundamental form

Exercise 1 Groups of objects

You have started off well despite your hesitancies with your own drawing ability with a number of sketches in your sketchbook. It is good to see you supporting yourself in your sketchbook with ways in to work in a way that you are afraid of. I am in no doubt that over time you will lose this fear, as your drawing ability is evident. In these types of exercises look at the negative space and draw that, as the rest will fit into place. Working on varying surfaces is fine if this is how you prefer to work and if it helps you get through those first hurdles. These exercises are all about looking and seeing what is actually there rather than working with the lazy (and sometimes arrogant!) side of the brain that thinks it knows what is there. Think about the connecting parts and don’t be afraid to slow down when your confidence starts to grow. You may wish to explore the more textural or softer aspects of your subjects as it feels to me that this is something you are naturally attracted to. The bunny is essentially a circle and cylinders so try to break down aspects of this to ensure that you are drawing what is actually there. Your observational skills are strong so lets work with this level of skill and build on it rather than undermine the skills you so clearly have already.

The larger piece works well but has probably lost the more observational side that you achieved in the first instance. Applying your looking skills to the cast shadows and more tonal aspects that would have been present could have allowed this drawing to be more grounded on the page as well as take up a more three dimensional approach to drawing. You can do this, just try to lose the fear of failure and instead enjoy each exercise in its own right and allow the work to fail, as it will take the pressure off.

Exercise 2 Observing shadow using blocks of tone

Despite your difficulties with this exercise your approach is open minded and positive and what you have achieved is good. Further and more sustained development of working tonally will help you improve and I would suggest that you set up a still life in a very dark corner with a strong directional light such as an angle poise lamp will help you differentiate between the light, mid and dark tones of your composition. Sometimes it helps if you take photographs too as it clarifies the areas even more although I wouldn’t suggest that you work from photographs as this will give you a flatter image outcome but use it instead more as a tool. Once you start to understand these elements the outcome will be much more enjoyable.

Exercise 3 Creating shadow using lines and marks

For this exercise you have produced a number of sketches in your sketchbook that are less about observation and more about creating an outpouring of creative mark making. There is an argument here to make work creatively but with closer observation, as although the drawings appear more spontaneous looking closer at where you should make a mark i.e. closer observational skill of what is there rather than what is implied would have allowed your preliminary sketches to be more convincing tonally. Try not to dismiss closer observation instead try to work creatively with it.

Research point: Odilon Redon

You have submitted very good personal reflective accounting of the work of Odilon Redon. You have analysed his approach to making work well and have clearly connected to it on a personal level. Don’t forget to cite your research academically by creating an ongoing bibliography or reference list using The Harvard System of Referencing. Well done, the mind mapping is a good supporting visual here and works well on a personal level to explain in closer detail your thoughts and ideas surrounding what you know about his work.

Exercise 4 Shadows and reflected light

You have submitted a good visual that explains your difficulties with your subject and it is good to see perseverance as I recognise that drawing still lives in charcoal is a struggle for you. Try to enjoy the mark making aspect of this drawing. There are elements that can be improved with more experience but overall this is not a bad first attempt. Allowing yourself to not start again is a good discipline. Learn from it (i.e. map out the composition on the page lightly first before filling in any detail) and then allow the work to do its think. Again looking at the negative space (The space around the objects) will help. There is more on this subject later on in your studies, so remember that you are just at the start of your learning and you are making big leaps already.

Assignment 1

The selection of your objects for this assignment has arrived at a point where you are starting to reference your Allegory to Childhood, which allows your work to be purposeful, directed, and to have an underpinning contextually in support of your drawing. Work is often autobiographical and I am in no doubt that as you move through Drawing 1 these ideas will allow your work to develop but with purpose. Your supporting research is analysed and evaluated coherently and the selection of The annunciation with St Emidius is notably of interest. Researching can be a very fruitful experience and I would suggest that you evaluate your findings in brief to start off with as you find research so easy to get weighed down by. Your preliminary drawings demonstrate your ability to synthesize a personal idea into a formal outcome and requirement of the course. The almost theatrical background is of interest as you have suggested aspects of the box to be grounded in personal experience. Your mark making is evocative and wide reaching to the viewer as well as being extremely interesting to look at The darker references within the work of Odilon Redon has quite possibly allowed this work to filter through so don’t be afraid to write about this if you feel it is relevant.

The overall quiet and underlying sense of these selected objects in this setting suggests an understanding of your research, to cite the work of Redon against the symbolic references of vegetables and rotting fruit. The hanging vegetable and the contained toy delicately placed in a box are highly suggestive making this drawing in my opinion very successful. The dramatic use of heavy tone as a background against the light delicacy of the face of the doll suggests an understanding of what you have learnt so far at the start of Drawing 1. Your conceptualization of thought and discernment is exemplary for this stage of Drawing 1. Overall you have slowed down, allowed mark making to be purposeful and introduced textural qualities to your drawing. Very successful outcome, so you should congratulate yourself on your achievement, well done.

Reflection on your progress

Your review suggests the peaks and troughs of experience. Feeling excited, anxious, elated and despairing is really quite ordinary for the creative mind. There is the need to develop some elements of risk and not be fearful of failure, as this is where the learning aspect of your studies comes into play. This course is designed to support and challenge you through the whole experience and in my opinion you are taking on these challenges but need to allow yourself the space to convince yourself that you have a lot of good drawing abilities but the point of this course is to challenge you with new techniques, processes and new ways of working. You are achieving these despite your concerns.


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Remember to label the pages of your sketchbook against the exercises so that your assessors can follow at the assessment point. You are using your sketchbook well with supporting annotations on the development of your ideas. There is some lovely work in here and it is good to see you using it for a variety of different reasons. Your technical and visual skills are developing and this seems a place to naturally house your creative ideas. Keep going.

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays


Your log is being used well and you are clearly recording and documenting your learning through this tool.  You have a developing personal voice and you are reflecting, evaluating and analysing your own work against the work of others. It would be nice to see your research voice coming through a little although I recognise that at this stage you are concerned that will swamp the practical work. Over time you will be more efficient at obtaining a balance between research and your work, as it is clear that the research is underpinning your own work already throughout this assignment.  Clearly define your projects and exercises from the content for clarity. Add a page for your on going bibliography that should be Harvard Referenced. Add a little more written work in support of your research into other artists work in support of your own studies. Good, solid reflection and evaluation is already present.

Suggested reading/viewing


I would suggest that you evidence in a little more detail your research that you are clearly undertaking. Continue to read widely and start to add your own interests and exhibition visits to your work. See at least one exhibition that takes you out of your comfort zone within your next assignment.

Pointers for the next assignment

  • Take your time to look at what it I you are trying to represent.
  • Look closely at artist’s compositions. These can be very varied, so record them and analyse what you see
  • Embrace “intimacy’ as an idea in your own way and take each exercise on in confidence.

{Coloured highlighting my own for reference}


Reflection – Part 4 – Assignment

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills


  • I have tried to extend my use of materials as I have worked through this part of the course but unfortunately found myself drifting back to those I find most comfortable.   I don’t think I have been very successful in using free flowing materials and struggle to find the composition and form rather than the more emotive possibilities of different kinds of drawing materials.
  • It would be useful to be pointed towards different kinds of drawing and I remain confused about where drawing stops and painting begins.  Is there are dividing line – I don’t think so but fail to apply this to my own work.
  • In terms of trying materials I enjoyed going out on a limb and using edible stuff and spices. However felt constrained by time limits and the push to get through the different exercises.
  • Pleased with working on heavier paper and the wet on wet technique – could use this more and with a greater variety of media


  • My technique has developed in some areas but it remains patchy.   It is still hard for me to pause and consider rather than dashing in to get marks on paper.   This is somewhat driven by the format of life class itself.
  • I did surprise myself with getting the essence of the figures in some of the quite short poses – I find that the longer I work on a pose the more it tends to deteriorate  learning to work in stages on a drawing – particularly ones of up to 2 hrs or longer is a challenge for me.  It is a bit like the experience of doing the Assignment 4 seated pose.    The studies are far more vibrant alive and energetic than the final piece.

Observational Skills & Visual Awareness

  • Again the issue is consistency – sometimes I can manage to hold my concentration. I think the skills are developing even if it is to notice more accurately what is not working. I don’t always know how to rectify this.
  • I believe I am still easily distracted by what I think is there rather than really effective looking.   It is easy to get carried away with an exercise or study and loose the essence of piece.

Design & Compositional Skills

  • Interestingly I think this has been less successful in this part because the body gets to dominate my thoughts rather than how the body or head is in the landscape/frame of a piece.
  • I have tended to draw whole bodies because that is what I think is expected although we have been encouraged to look at other artists where obvious dynamic compositional choices have been made.  I don’t think I have done this I have just centred on drawing the form of the body.

Overall although I have loved completing this part of the module I don’t think in terms of these components it has been as successful and I would have liked.   Maybe it is about identifying all the issues and hurdles initially before I can move things forward.   A body/head is so much more subtle a subject to capture and therefore needs more than I have to offer at this stage.

Quality of Outcome

I think key words for this whole part  4 are patchy/unpredictable/inconsistent.    This refers also to the quality of the outcomes.   I think my work is coherent but as commented in the previous section sometimes hits the spot and sometimes does not.

Again this is due to the way I consciously or unconsciously approach the exercises.   Sometimes I start out with conscious intentions and can sustain through the piece but this is not always true.   There is still not enough stepping back and reviewing.  It is not that I over judge my own work as being successful when it is not but have not found a way to take the lessons forward and incorporate them into the future work.

I believe that the necessary review before I make choices for Part 5 will be critical in becoming more discerning.  I will need to build in some key learning and development targets into this.

Demonstration of Creativity

Not surprisingly some of the comments related to the previous sections are also relevant to these area. There are ideas bubbling away through this section particularly those that link my interest in the dolls with Hans Bellmer and my own image (self-portraits) designing myself as a package.

Experimentation has taken place not only within the course exercises as with the food stuffs and packaging but when taking the short course about textures and surface.  These have all fed into my moving forward thoughts about areas of interest to explore further.


I have aimed to look more widely at sources and images to give greater depth to my understanding of the context surrounding the body in art. There are books etc that I wish to tackle but have found some of the writing rather opaque and don’t believe I have enough understanding of the way art historians think about artworks.

My reading has though made me more aware of the cultural, historic, economic, social, gender and identity aspects of art – particularly in relation on women’s’ artwork. Though as yet I am confused about what is being talked about with feminism and post-feminism.  My last foray into being analytical about the arts was in the 80s not at the height of the feminist era but when many of the first wave of feminist art history was emerging as well as development of philosophical thinking i.e. Griselda Pollock, Rozsika Parker etc. Some of these books are now coming out again as “classic” editions. Presently I would like to tackle this as part of the Part 5 study but need time to think about how to approach this without being sucked into too much theoretical analysis.

Seeing work like the Cathie Pilkington exhibition has encouraged me to believe that there is some good/successful/strong women’s work out there that does not pander to excessive response to male stereotypes.   I don’t precisely know what I mean by this but that is how it came out.


I have hugely enjoyed working through the part of the module and would like to have stayed longer with some aspects of my work.

I am clear that I need to:-

  • Think more before I act
  • Make more conscious decisions at different stages as I am working through a piece
  • Stand back more
  • Review more
  • Experiment more
  • Mix up the media – extend my vocabulary
  • Become more analytical about artists work – ask myself questions




Part 4 Bibliography –

Betterton, Rosemary, 1996. Intimate Distance. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Carson, Fiona, & Pajaczkowska, Claire 2000. Feminist Visual Culture. 1st ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Cumming, Laura, 2009. A Face to the Wold: on self-portraits. 1st ed. London: Harper Collins.

Hall, James, 2014. The Self-Portrait: A cultural History. 1st ed. UK: Thames & Hudson.

Kemp Martin & Wallace, Marina (2000), Spectacular Bodies, 1st ed, London, Hayward Gallery

Marion Young, Iris, 2005. On Female Body Experience. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Saunders, Gill, 1989. The Nude: a new perspective. 1st ed. London: The Herbert Press Ltd.

Sennett, Richard, 1996. Flesh & Stone. 1st ed. London: W W Norton & Company Ltd.

Simblet, Sarah, 2001. Anatomy for the Artist. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Webb, Peter, 2004. Death, Desire & The Doll. 1st ed. UK: Solar Books.

Woodall, Joanna, 2005. Self-Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary. 1st ed. London: National Portrait Gallery.

Assignment 4 – Seated Figure

Seated figure study 2

The first of 3 preliminary sketches for the assignment.   I used the working blind drawing method and then two further drawn lines over this.  Plus some overworking in areas of the face.   I particularly like the activity or energy of the drawing and the way the face has emerged from the different lines and overworking.

Could definitely have worked much slower on the blind drawing stage to establish a stronger layout for the fiture.

Seated figure study 3

Second drawing using water soluble wax crayons – again I worked in various layers overworking each colour and then used water to blur/fuse them together. Is using water drawing?  I don’t know.   This drawing also has a freshness about it but looses out a bit on the accuracy side.

Seated figure study 1

Final study and dealing with the difficulty of using purely line to create volume in the figure.   Cheated using various inks as well as the main drawing with ink and pen. Again do like the spontaneity of this image but am becoming aware of the difficulty of working these type of methods up to A1 size. The 3 studies are around A3.

Final seated line assiggnment 4

This is the A1 final version of the drawing.   Realised how much line work it takes to build up the volume – i.e. the jumper which I think is successful   The trousers are less so.   Wanted to use another version of line but but short on time.   Some inaccuracies of proportion and placing of the limbs – particular the far – left leg.   Also head not properly placed – neck too long……

He is so nearly there but minor inaccuracies escalate when working at a larger size.   Working purely with line was challenging I found.

The Head

Second week of long pose drawing.   I knew that the position I was in would not produce a good drawing of Tom’s head as it was too much in profile.

Firstly tried a more straight on view:-

Head sketch 1

head sketch 2

The first sketches where I was trying to get the proportions of his head and face.   He has a very long face with small mouth and chin. Realised that this is perhaps not the best angle and so moved to the side and back of the class.   I was struggling to see the detail of his face and its tones from the distance I was from the model.   But decided to stick with this angle as it was the best that I could find under the circumstances in the room.

Tom Head week 2

Tom head initial layer

This was the first phase of the drawing which was entirely with water soluble crayons on pastel paper.   Had applied a small amount of water but in fact it tended to make it messy and obliterated the marks of the crayons which I found most pleasing.

I had wanted to be more experimental but in a classroom situation with limited time I had to make decisions which drew me back to the crayons.

Tom head final

Final drawing after 2 hours.   Some parts of which I really like especially the mood of pensiveness.   I am sorry that this particular angle or any angle with this pose did not allow me to capture his eyes. Nostril facing too large will have to take it down and it may help the overall structure.   Looking back at his photo the face is too long but I think that the elongation has added to its expression in some ways.

The completion of the drawing to this stage has brought up more questions than answering the remit of the assignment.

Reclining Figure

2nd preparatory sketch

In this first study I was using water soluble crayons on wet 300gm paper.   I like the way the colours and tones move together.

1st preparatory sketch

Tried something similar with water soluble pencils in this next study.  Somethings about this I like – the shapes and dynamic proportions of the composition leading towards the top right corner.

graphite outline

Just a trickle of graphite powder – can be very expressive but blurs – some how I would like to find a way to capture the liveliness of these drawn lines – except that this study is supposed to be about tone.

initial colour washes

Decided to work on the wet on wet with the soluble crayons on 300gms watercolour paper. Time is a real factor when you upscale on size.   I am just getting used to this.   This definitely took more than 3 hours to the final piece below.

final version reclining

I like how the big masses of colour work as well as the tonal variants of the t-shirt and trousers.   Along the way it has lost something of the dynamism of the original composition as well as the reclining attitude – but it did take a long time. For the first time I am please ow shape is implied by the colours without having to be explicit with lines.

Research Context

I am not sure that I have particular research for this Assignment but more as the background for the whole Part 4 which has been an on-going exploration. After the last Assignment my tutor suggested I look at the work of various artists some of which I have followed up.   These include Otto Dix, John Currin, Ron Muerk, Hope Gangloff, Tracy Emin, Sam Taylor-Wood, Ana Mendieta – the suggestion was to look at them in order to become more fluid in my approach to drawing.

As you will see from my sketchbook I looked at these and a number of others, Egon Schiele, Frank Auerbach, Piete Peere, and Degas.

I am aware that I have looked at more artists whilst working through Part 4 than I have in the previous parts and am feeling rather overwhelmed by the variety and diversity of the skills.


This has been a really rewarding section of the Module.   I have always loved the figure and am even more enthusiastic about it as an artistic subject but:-

  • There has been so much to take on board in a relatively short space of time.  I have progressed in my drawing abilities and am certainly looking more carefully.   But it is transient sometimes it “works” and sometimes it doesn’t.   I know this is a lapse in concentration on my part hence the challenge of this assignment because of the size of the work and the length of time necessary to work on an individual piece.  I don’t think I have ever done this before (except in the other assignment pieces).
  • In some cases I have been limited by the poses taking place in life classes, the seated pose and the head.   This has meant that I have not been able to dictate the angles, lighting etc.   Tried with the composition of the seated pose I looked at finding a more dynamic closer view but this did not work.   Similarly with the head I was quite far away in the class. This is not to excuse my work but part of my realisation on how much I need to be able to dictate.
  • Some of the styles I wanted to try did not lend themselves to the particular settings.   I like my studies for the seated figure far more than the final piece.   I could not however work out how I could combine these and keep within the “lines” literally of the brief.
  • I continue to be challenged by working on a larger scale using some of the materials and methods I have tried during this part.   Scaling up needs a scaling up of the marks too in order to create greater impact.  I am not yet sure how to do this.
  • Still there is a tendency to go back to tired (maybe tired by tried) and tested methods of working although discovering working on the wet heavier paper was successful for the reclining figure.  Interesting footnote to this is that I wanted to take this further in a long pose class recently but it didn’t work because I did not take enough time to choose the compositional angle and there was too much literally bare flesh to deal with tonally.
  • I have slowed down somewhat but not enough to be able to be consistent in what I am producing.  I am split in this in that ideas come fleetingly and want to be followed whereas drawing is a skill that will need 10,000 or is it 100,000 hours!


Exhibitions – Part 4

Phoenix Brighton – MEMORIA – Alex Peckham


This is a multi-dimensional piece created in an almost dark space surrounded by a sound recording of birds and external noises.   It is therefore both internal and external but when you are in the space itself holds you between the two.   Dominating the environment is a huge moth which appears to be breathing – not because it is moving but because of the sound-track and the assumption that this is the only living thing in the environment.

Scattered around are different pieces including tables and chairs – set with specific objects, dried trees, flowers – in retrospect I don’t know if what I “remember” are part of the exhibition or part of my own projection into the space and the experience.

Whilst the piece represents “dynamic sound and light to reflect upon life and death” my own response was of a tranquil, restful, allowing experience.   I found the piece thoughtfully expressive of acceptance – or maybe that is just me!

University of Brighton – Cathie Pilkington

CP 4

The Life Rooms

Anatomy of a Doll & Harmonium

Provocative and ambiguous, Cathie Pilkington’s sculptures make use of dolls in unexpected and challenging ways.

Exhibited for the first time since its debut at the Royal Academy, Anatomy of a Doll responds to Degas’ famous figures of ballerinas, playing with ideas of form and representation: is it sophisticated high art or the mechanics of a handcrafted work in progress? Showing alongside is Harmonium, which transforms a humble wooden shelving unit into the framework for fascinating individual tableaux.

Figurines, textiles, lightboxes and domestic items each tell their own story, questioning expectations of ornament, storage and display. A Royal Academician since 2014, Pilkington is acclaimed for her often unsettling sculptures that question how the female figure is represented. (


CP 5

I had not come across the work of Cathie Pilkington before and was thrilled by the diversity of her work.   The ready-made pieces collaged together and over glazed as well as the more macabre created items like the one below I found very resonant with my interests with different ways to examine the female experience.

CP 6

“Storytelling, myths, norms subverted, using “female” materials objects of the home and girl-hood.  Sexualised, desexualised, curiosity, dressing table, femininity? who am I, couples/ceramic maids and partners, obliterated, covered, brown – colours of the 30s-50s”.

CP 7

I loved particularly this dressing-table tableau with the child in 70s browns examining herself in the mirror but surrounded by over gazed idealised shepherds and shepherdesses.  Personally I remember the fascination with my mother’s whole dressing-table “alter-like” specialness – the place the ordinary face became the extra-ordinary or the private became the public.

CP 8

Is the girl willing herself to become adult or more female or different?

CP 9

I have over the years collected pieces of embroidery with crinolined ladies depicted as the epitome of femininity – usually surrounded by hollyhocks in a country garden.  Such a static depiction retained from previous centuries always struck me as an anachronism…..

crinoline lady

The second part of Pilkington’s exhibition was the creation of an art studio – fitted with lecture theatre like seats, mirrors and individual pieces of “sculpture” in the likeness of Degas’s “Little Dancer” but made from a combination of ceramic, fabric etc fixed on apertures.  These are subversive in their depictions of the female form – not idealised – heads back to front, limbs asymmetrical etc.

CP 11

I really enjoyed this exhibition which opened up a different world and a variety of methods.  However Harmonium though challenging I was not all together clear about what she was referencing on the different shelves – there were elements of Louise Bourgeois but maybe that is just the use of fabric.

Fabrica, Brighton – THEY

An exhibition by respected Turkish artist Ipek Duben comes to Brighton this Spring. THEY/ONLAR, a multi-screen video installation, previously seen at SALT, Istanbul, Turkey, will be presented at Fabrica for its UK premiere.

THEY/ONLAR focuses on how Turkish society views They or the Other. Through the stories of several individuals the artist goes behind the scene in Turkish society, allowing us to glimpse her country’s diversity of ethnic, religious and gender positions, the perceptions of members of the Sunni majority, and the everyday discrimination and resistance that it engenders.

In Turkey They covers many ethnic, and religious groups: Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Jews, Rum (Greek) and Romanis. They also refers to LGBT people, women, covered women, women subjected to domestic violence.

Through their personal testimonies Duben’s subjects discuss their histories, attitudes, prejudices, hear-say and personal experiences concerning each other. But in portraying Turkish society Ipek Duben ultimately invites us to examine ourselves in our context: to listen; to learn; to understand; to be generous to, rather than threatened by the Other.

Co-produced with Brighton Festival and with the generous support of SAHA Foundation

Fabrica  images

The statement above was part of the PR flyer for the exhibition.   Spending quite a lot of time watching the films I became more and more intrigued by the individual stories and what was the same and what was different one to the other and to my own experience.   There was a great deal revealed about the culture and politics of gender which I could identify with as my experience from 50s – 70s .   The difference was the attitudes of the ethnic groups to each other.   There had been times which they clearly lived amiably side by side but more recently a sense of separateness and fracture.

I am not sure how to respond to this as a piece of artwork -clearly there is a documentary format, biographical.  What I enjoyed was the way each person was caught as it were mid sentence and mid discussion – each following the previous and phasing into the next.  It left you wanting to hear more and certainly becoming involved in the narratives.

In conclusion I was reminded of the Jo Cox quote “more similar than different”.





Part 4 – Project 6 – The Head – Exercise 3 – Portrait from Memory or the Imagination

The idea of creating a portrait from memory or imagination really freaked me out.   I don’t know why and couldn’t think how to start.   So I began by making a couple of quick collages using images from recent colour supplements.   In fact I really rather like the one on the right with the cat ears.   Started to draw from this but not in itself very satisfactory – trying to make it a face instead of what it is.

And then I remembered seeing on the bus a very young mother with a new born baby.   It was a particularly poignant scene because her mother was sitting next to her and the new mother was breastfeeding her baby.  In order to retain her dignity her mother was holding a scarf over the baby whilst her other hand rested on her daughter’s shoulder.   I was really touched by this scene with one generation supporting the next in this very protective but not overwhelming way.

imagination girl on the bus

Anyway with this image in my mind I started to draw and am interested and intrigued by what I have produced.   This does look in some way like a Madonna and child and more surprisingly there are aspects of the face that are reminiscent of the young mother I saw the day before. It is not her, it is not the best drawing (proportionally) but I have captured something of the moment that I witnessed.

head dix style

Otto Dix style head

single figure and head sheile

Egon Shiele style figure

Just added these two drawings in because I like them!