Category: research theory (page 1 of 2)

From Track to Backwater

trackcover

In 2010 as my mother was in the final stages of Carcinoid cancer I took a walk down a disused railway line in my hometown that used to run from Didcot to Southampton.

I used it as the beginning of a NTU M.A. in Multimedia. A year later it collapsed and I retstarted it as a Fine Art Drawing M.A. instead after she passed away in 2012.

As my mother worsened I continued to visit her and that track and walk it and remember the times I walked and drew it in the early 1990s.

Here is an image from a small sketchbook drawn on the 1st August 1990….I dated everything in those days.

sketch15

 

I however had not forgotten that Track project and always thought it would come back.

 

 

Rail and River: The Hitchman Archive explored.

As a teenager I remember looking through the extensive book collection my friend at school’s father had assembled. Mostly on a natural history and a river Thames theme I wasn’t sure how many of those books were still with my friend Stephe here in Nottingham. Yesterday I looked through the remnants of the ‘Hitchman Archive’ and found a treasure trove of cultural geography material.

Here what I managed to carry home to render into a bibliography for a proposal but there plenty still in the boxes.

hitchmens

Most significant were the accounts of the Victorian Thames and it already apparent that the railway opened up the River Thames as a tourist destination. I also delighted to discover a hither-too unknown to me artist George D. Leslie who was living in Wallingford at the same time Mann in Hagbourne. Indeed there was a group of  artists associated with two families there and George D. Leslie even wrote a book about art politics at the R.A!

leslie2

This has put back my writing of the proposal for PhD as I sort through the new material and maybe revise my intended research question and title. The Rail/River juxtaposition seems to sum up the Victorian Golden age ( in Williams sense) problem. The artists used the railway to access the ‘unspoilt’ countryside/riverscapes but hardly (unlike the French Impressionists) painted the Railway…..this at root of my enquiry. Why did the British painters and artists comprehensively ignore the very means by which they were gaining access? This seems to be the essential contradiction at the heart of rural art and art movements here in the U.K.

Having found Leslie I did a quick trawl of other possible artists at work in a radius of just ten miles of Didcot Junction and came up with John Singer Sargent and John Lavery both connected to Lord Asquith estate at Sutton Courtenay. I also uncovered a small art commune known as the Broadway Group in the Cotswolds connected to Henry James and presumably linked to the arts and crafts further upstream. It looking increasingly likely that although the focus has been on Jewson and Morris above Oxford that the railway enabled a whole range of artistic activity all along the newly ‘discovered’ unspoilt Thames. Far from being the ‘Upper Thames’ poor cousin there may be more yet to uncover in ‘The Lower or Middle’ Thames Valley.

I also found this fascinating combination of travelogue, illustration and ‘staged’ photography by Charles George Harper and W.S.Campbell. I have never seen this illustration of the Clumps before and it several decades before Gibbings books were published.

I am very grateful to Mr Hitchman senior for this legacy:-)

TVVBothS TVVillages2vol Wittenham Clumps, by Charles G. Harper from Thames Valley Villages, 1910 (a)

They also published this book which has direct connection to Edwin Smith’s later photography from the look of the cover!

rural nooks

Tracking Time

New directions opening up I could almost call myself an art historian maybe…(trainee level:-)

readinglist

Gnats Again…..a story revisited.

gn1

I am revisiting a paper originally given at the Film Philosophy conference in Amsterdam in 2013.

 

The full paper is available online at Scribd here:

Twin Peaks? New Research Track and merging themes?

 

welcome

 

This just to clarify…my research has previously had two sides to the story…and no bodies wrapped in plastic ..yet…

 

DRAWING: Comics and Graphic Novels Research

Firstly an M.A. in Fine Art exclusively concerned with drawing and presenting analysis of art research methodology in sequential drawings.

This and associated papers/ outcomes contained herein: http://www.shaunbelcher.com/research/

This developed out of a scurious cartoon art dog called Moogee’s adventures in the Fine Art World: http://www.shaunbelcher.com/moogee

UPDATE June 2016: This work is now coming to fruition as Freelance Design and comic illustration under

FLYIN SHOES ARTS U.K.
https://flyinshoesarts.wordpress.com

MOOGEE THE DOODLE DOG
http://www.shaunbelcher.com/moogee/

 

HISTORY OF ART AND TECHNOLOGY

Following an aborted M.A. in Multimedia which changed into a Fine Art M.A. in drawing I became interested in the notion of the rise of Victorian Technology and Illustration as a early distribution network or web. Specifically I began looking at early photography and film and its influences and cross-currents with fine art especially illustration.

This led to the work here and papers linked below (one purely visual until I finally write up).

This led to a Leverhulme PhD Funding Submission through BIAD in 2014 which was a group submission and unsuccessful around idea of Railway as a instigator of artistic practice.

I recently investigated these possible ideas again. It may be possible to link two areas together via a graphic narrative format.

https://www.scribd.com/collections/4262615/Art-Research-Illustration-and-Media

I have also recently used a poetry narrative to describe a Photographer’s Equipment and its technological changes for RIBA

EDWIN SMITH at RIBA

I have just discovered David Trotter’s work ‘Literature in the First Media Age’ which seems perfect match for what I trying to do.

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674073159

(UPDATE June 2016: This route may come to fruition in an Art History/Literature/Music PhD as that the area I now consider myself to be operating in and which best match for interests)

 

James Elkins and The ‘truth commitment’ – Academia and Creativity and ‘Visual Novels’

http://www.full-stop.net/2015/04/07/interviews/nicolesanson/james-elkins/

In academia there is a ‘truth commitment’ thank you Jim Elkins that perfectly expresses my ongoing problem with academia…..great interview.

Yeah,  really! That’s academia for you,  because there’s a truth commitment, you know . . . I didn’t used to think of people in the humanities quite that way, I thought maybe scientists would be that way.

James Elkins is talking about the Humanities requiring ‘truth’ in a scientific way in creative matters. This increasingly the problem with fine art and creative writing degrees they require forms of ‘justification’ and ‘explication’ to warrant validity in REF terms…..

The article also discusses the ‘photo-embedded novel’ or as Elkins calls it  ‘Writing with Images’.

I will respond more fully to the ideas contained here in next few days…it key to the way i see my own work going now. Less academic and more ‘practice-led’.

Leverhulme bid- Proposal

Here is the sadly failed application proposal but plenty of pointers to a future PhD proposal to work with…especially in regard to the mountain of Victorian art and railway literature in my studio….

Back to the future? Film Research paper accepted Amsterdam!

 

I sent a submission to a Film Philosophy conference in Amsterdam and have been accepted so have three months to write paper detailed below. This will pull together all the research done as first year of M.A. which was put on hold whilst rejigged M.A. to be fine art and cartoon based (this blog). The previous research is specifically archived here http://www.shaunbelcher.com/rpt and merges into ongoing fine art’Projects’ here http://www.shaunbelcher.com/fineart/

The proposal which has been accepted is as follows:
BEYOND FILM PROPOSAL

mann1 mann2

Alexander Mann’s ‘Gnats’: Early film and photography in rural England as traced through an artist’s sequential narrative and sketchbooks.
Alexander Mann (1853-1908) landscape and genre painter was an early adopter, seek post impressionism, viagra of photography and his sequential narrative in etchings ‘Gnats and other hindrances to the landscape artist’ of 1884 reveals not only an awareness of photography but hints at a wider filmic narrative.
It is the purpose of this paper to explore this folio work of Alexander Mann alongside his sketchbooks and relate this to the wider discourse around early cinematic and photographic technology, troche artistic modernism, artistic communities and the railway. This will draw on Benjamin, Kirby, Solnit and Schivelbusch in attempting to uncover information from a neglected area of art history i.e. Artistic Modernism in the Thames Valley (England) and the spread of ‘new’ imaging technology from 1850-1914 through artists to the local community.
The paper will attempt to reveal a correlation between ‘experimentation’ with ‘new’ technology in post-impressionism in the English provinces with present day advances in pervasive mobile and digital imaging and its equivalent widening of participation in the processes of image creation.

Keywords: Early photography and cinema, sequential narrative, mobile technology, imaging, landscape and genre painting, etching, provincial modernism.

EYE
www.eyefilm.nl

www.film-philosophy.com

Re-Toons = research theory via cartoons

What is Rural Symposium: report

Photo: Nick May from Food Chain Exhibition

These observations base on notes taken on day. Thoroughly enjoyable but as notes reveal patchy.

Full website here : http://www.thecollaborators.org.uk/What_is_Rural.html

Steve Messam: Site-specific public artist
First speaker was standing in for Ian Hunter from Littoral.

Site-specific ‘sculpture’ mostly financed by business and aimed at the spectacular rather than the sublime.
To me suffered from the ’roundabout art’ disease that aflicts much ‘public art’ i.e. it grand and spectacular bit like a firework display to draw attention to itself and satisfy the ‘sponsors’ but as actual art almost non-existent. Mr. Messam was genuinely concerned with local issues and genuinely believes he not only drawing down significant wads of sponsorship but also highlighting important issues. At time there some depth as in his sheep pen covered in hides but mostly it looked like big buck = big bang art and the actual art almost irrelevant…i.e. why not fireworks and be done with it?

EMMA HEALD: Advisor for Natural England
Good overview of Natural England remit and challenges in current economic climate. Little direct relationship to arts it seemed.

LIZ and PAUL GENEVER: Farmer
Excellent grounded non-academic highlighting of real issues affecting modern farming. Learnt something…

TALKSCAPE exhibition: KATE GENEVER and ADAM O’MEARA

Kate had been instrumental in bringing symposium together drawing on twin background in farming and the arts.

I found actual show confusing and the noble aspiration of rehanging it did not really help give a sense of artists in it. I reserve judgement and Adam’s drawings appeared interesting.


JOHN PLOWMAN: DAVID GILBERT: ROSALIND STODDART

Three speakers round table. Not very enlightening and revealed more about the scarcity of funding post ACE.
Plowman safely berthed in academia and as with all three there an almost missionary zeal to ‘bring’ art to the poor downtrodden masses or as in Norfolk these days Bankers in 4X4s. None seemed to exist in real world at all compared to the farmer.

Indeed it could be argued that projects like Beacon are actually part of the problem not the solution for rural communities if they actually still exist. The proportion of residents actually living in coastal holiday towns and villages is below 40%. No number of art interventions or decorative arts galleries can hide that. I was irritated by the religious opportunism of ‘metropolitan’ minds who without hesitation believe ‘rural’ people need a site-specific application or another dubious alter-modern happening. I was not the only one who felt this.

Top-down not bottom up attitudes despite the conviction by the instigators/curators (and funding recipients) that they doing just that…naive in extreme and very Old Labour approach..i.e. throw culture at masses they will like it…..now as empty as the towns they tried to save……

Sarcastic footnote: Stoddart calls herself an INDEPENDENT CULTURAL ENGINEER..this cuts no ice with me and just shows the ego inflation prevelent these days in the sector…..curators ten a penny so I suppose this cultural re-branding..god help us

DAVID WALKER-BARKER: Artist

Old-school approach (Royal College) actually made beautiful artworks and had a significant practice founded on genuine knowledge and a historic sense of place and history. Note I have to highlight this as this kind of work few and far between these days!

TIM NEAL: Anthropologist (Wildsite and Tourism)
Wild card literally and at time seemed a little out of place but in hindsght the area which actually provoked most interest for me.
Instead of art practice buffoonery we had some fairly in depth analysis of what actually made people consider places as ‘rural idylls’ from Samuel Palmer on. His observations of English in France chimed perfectly with my experience on the ground in NORTH NORFOLK.
The images of ‘rural myth’ created by artists are along with curators above seriously implicated in the destruction of viable healthy rural communities. To wander through a pitch dark rural idyll as second home owners and holiday properties lay empty is to experience first-hand the effect of rural gentrification. Abstract pontificating or arty musings do not hide this desperate state of affairs.

The rural landscape is an increasingly depopulated picture-postcard manned by the modern swains i.e. transient workers and illegal immigrants. They if employed in something more than service industries man increasingly ruthless mass food production facilities which hidden from the Range-Rovers gaze by screens of trees.

NICK MAY: FOOD CHAIN EXHIBITION

The following exhibition of farm workers in 21st century brilliantly spotlighted this and suggested that the true artform of the modern era is documentary photography as nothing else is keeping pace with the destruction of rural values.

http://www.skegnessinternational.com/nick-may.html

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