Personal Statement MA Fine Art

Diana Brighouse

June 2011

FAM 4 (Studio Research)

Motivation for my work My urge to explore the concept of boundary, and by extension issues of inclusion and exclusion, has encompassed studies in different (and often apparently opposing) disciplines. Thetexts that are used to preserve the boundaries of fine art, medicine, and psychotherapy have themselves provoked further research, and have fuelled my artistic practice. Unfortunately illness, both my own and my daughter s, caused a very slow start to the module, and I do not feel that I had any clear idea about direction before Christmas. Since last semester two different pieces of academic work have focused my thoughts. The first was a report into the work that the Fine Art department has been doing in collaboration with St Richard s hospital. The second (and more recent) was a paper that I gave to a multidisciplinary group of the British Pain Society entitled Reductionism revisited. (The report and the presentation can be found on my website, http://www.kilo90.com/Diana_art/). Before this semester my research about exclusion had referred to socio-political, or socioeconomic exclusion. This relates to my experience working in medicine; my work had often been with socially and financially deprived or mentally ill patients. However the arts in healthcare work prompted me to consider other types of exclusion in the arts in healthcare work the exclusion of the arts group by the medical group is frequently academically based, a rejection of research methodologies that are deemed to be inferior. Consideration of research methodologies had a major influence on my second piece of work and I , have started to consider ways in which reductionist and other philosophies relate to arts practice and theory. Art practice I have been slow to find the right art practice for expressing my ideas. Initial thoughts, following on from my degree show, had centred on textile installation work in public spaces, but very early in the MA I knew that this was not going to work for me. In an attempt to clear my head of my degree show work I made a very tentative entry into the world of film and video (of which I knew nothing). Although this taught me some basic technical skills and introduced me to new art work, it was not until starting the website development module this semester that I started to see possibilities for my work.

Personal Statement

Diana Brighouse

June 2011

It has become obvious to me that the website is the perfect metaphor for exclusion. Access to webbased art (at least in England) is not restricted by finance, social class, education, or age. As such it is an almost fully inclusive medium. However there is a paradox. The website creator s work is available to an audience of many millions, yet may be seen by no-one. It may accurately represent isolation amongst a multitude. Using the website as medium, process and practice seems a logical expression of the various disciplines and theories that inform my work. A workshop with Eleanor Suess reminded me that learning to observe, to look, to see, is fundamental to the training of both art and medical students. Eleanor talked about the use of oneminute lumiere films in teaching architecture students to see. Learning to see the unseen overcomes exclusion, whether it is exclusion because of race, religion, mental illness, poverty, or academic discipline. Boundaries are created to keep in those of similar persuasion, and exclude those who differ. Lesser, but important, boundaries exist between different art practices. Film and video are accepted media within mainstream fine art, but this has not always been the case, and there is still debate about the position of textile art in relation to fine art. The role of text within the visual arts is controversial. There are some examples of inter-disciplinary work, such as the Poetry beyond Text department at Dundee University. (http://www.poetrybeyondtext.org/) The text gallery website has an interesting statement; we are interested in the space between text and the visual arts: using typography, languages, libraries and archives as a catalyst for creative practice .(http://www.textgallery.info/) This idea of the space between is precisely the territory that I hope to explore; the blurred edges, the no-man s-land, the indefinable. In that space people and their ideas are often unseen because they do not conform to the expected. I believe that using a website as art takes me directly into the space between; a place where the written word, film and image, and the medium itself all defy categorisation. As this semester has progressed and the idea of basing my work on the website has developed, I have been aware of an increasing pull towards doing something with my hands (other than using a keyboard!) The desire to integrate something of my previous practice has become more important, and as I thought about pulling the threads together I realised that I could literally do just that. The use of stitch to pull together offers a counterbalance to working in the space between

Personal Statement

Diana Brighouse

June 2011

maintaining the correct tension between the two allows creative practice, whilst recognising the risks of imprisonment on one side, or madness on the other. My proposal is to use both textiles and the website to document the journey of the next year. I have a 40 metre continuous roll of muslin that I plan to stitch, allowing 10cm for each day. My idea is to use different coloured threads to represent different roles that I take; the lines may converge, diverge or cross depending on the events of the day. On the website I will continue to maintain a daily journal of relevant events, thoughts and reading. I have started to create a series of short films that all have aspects of seeing the unseen to them, and I intend to develop this theme. Obviously these are far from fully developed ideas, but I do now feel confident about taking my work forward. I would like to continue to explore the space between qualitative and quantitative methodologies, and to find a way to link academic and practice based research in this area, but this may be something to develop in doctoral studies.

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