Tutorial 8.2: 19 June 2020. Jonathan Kearney

Earlier today, I had the last tutorial with Jonathan, an optional one, that helped towards preparing for assessment and closure.

I went through how I have navigated the changes imposed on my work by the pandemic. We agreed that I had confronted problems with optimism and a willingness to search for alternatives. This has resulted in finding, not only some very viable ones for current circumstances but ones that are full of potential and consistent with my trajectory: they augment the scope and depth of my practice.

Jonathan agreed with my rationale to prioritise the hypothetical delivery of the project proposal. Not only because this is a crucial part of the assessment but also because it provides material for after the MA. I can only do what I can for the online shows and not what I would have wished.

I described my current work, making maquettes, and how this has led me to consider a new approach to my work. Not only do these serve as sources of invention and making, they also would invite people to look further and want to see the large works themselves. This is just one example of the new ideas that I have outlined in previous posts and stands for the way I have adapted to a new environment.

Miniatures have a sense of reality that is different to photoshopped images. The images of miniature settings have a grittiness, a detail, that puts them in the real world and perhaps that is why they can be disconcerting. As I look at a diorama it is as though I am seeing the real world but either know that it is not or I see little telltale signs that something is not quite right. At it is that not quite right that gives them a sense of otherworldliness.

I made the two caskets in The Future and the Past in One Place as a ritual and photographed them as an experiment prior to finishing the maquette for Enshrinement. I was interested that Jonathan was drawn to the flaws in the maquette images that gave a heightened sense of reality such as the marks on the polycarbonate glass panels of the vitrine and the out of scale fibres of the cord holding the caskets closed. I have made these models with what I have been able to find around the studio. It is these limitations, compromises, these out of place things that are unsettling and tell us that we are not looking at the real thing. A good example of this is Lori Nix and Kathleen Gerber’s dioramas of decaying interiors as part of a website dealing with the ecological crisis.

I explained the rationale behind Enshrinement, the first of three works for the final show and that this is one way forward: to curate works, exhibitions and venues on the small scale. Not only do they stand as works in their own right but they can also act as compelling proposals for shows in real places, and help me understand how a sculpture might work before its completion and how to might be altered or taken further.

We went over the blog curation and discussed various ways in which Unit 2 can be presented. Mine is complex and it is hard to separate the blog into the learning outcomes. We looked at various mechanisms for presenting Unit 2, whether on a single page or with nested pages to tidy things up a little. The idea emerged of creating a sort of landing page with images and explanations of the content and how the learning outcomes have been achieved, maybe choosing one or two posts that demonstrate all the criteria for each of the learning outcomes as flag bearers. This is not an easy thing to do as many posts cover several criteria but I do like the idea of a landing page. And the Symposium video is critical: it forms an introduction to Unit 2 that contextualises the whole.

Finally, I mentioned to Jonathan how the course had been a process of synthesis and how the methodology I have elaborated that can be applied to different ends in diverse contexts. It is customary to be sad when the course ends but I am not: it is the beginning of so much more. As such I do not feel it has ended going away with so much that I have learnt and done.