with Mitchell Smith
Working with Mitch has been an absolute pleasure, not only for the work we have produced but also as an intellectual interlocker and counter to some of Stanley Black’s more radical political positions. It was clear from Unit one that Michell and I held similar interests. The themes we explored often overlapped and we shared a corresponding use of materials and aesthetics. Despite hold diametrically opposing political belief structures it came as no surprise to me that we ended up as strange bedfellows.
with Cherish Marshall
I view my partnership with Mitch, as us both being equal partners. In the partnership with Cherish I have adopted a more subordinate role. Within our collaborations, my function so far has been as a facilitator to her ideas and vision. We regularly discuss her work and I will interject with ideas but essentially, they remain her own. However, the use of Marshall and Marshall is that if I’ve dedicated time to a project I am fully acknowledged. We intend to carry on working together so this dynamic may change with future proposals and projects.
with Uncovered Collective
Collaborating with a large group of artists is a challenging proposition but despite these challenges a sharing of the workload and a spread of any costs means there is a certain aspect of safety in numbers. Working as part of a small team and the setting up of the Postopia show offered a steep learning curve on how to organise a large group exhibition. We have always intended Uncovered Collective to become a mechanism for the group to stay in touch and carry on working together after the course has finished.
Professional Skills - facilitating an art intervention, managing a team of accomplices (The Trafalger Five), negotiating with the printer to produce offensive work, hiring filming equipment, editing documentation, re-editing documentation.
My Trafalger Square intervention was born from a conversation regarding my most controversial work ‘Stanley Black is a Bastard.’ It had been mentioned that this type of work would have a different meaning when removed from the confines of the university and the wider art world. I therefore wanted to gauge a public reaction to the work and to Stanley Black as a persona. The idea was simple I would print a massive copy of the work and place it outside the National Gallery and behind the fourth plinth, I would then see what happened and film the any occurrences. The first challenge was to talk my colleagues and see if they would help me with such a risqué endeavour. Due to the nature of the displayed work, many were queasy about the idea and thought it was a bridge too far - it was. My main concerns were that, although this was an art work it was in contravention of hate speech laws and I could easily be arrested, the second was that because of the offensive nature of the work I could be physically attacked and beaten up. I had contingency plans in place for each scenario but in the end none of these possible events occurred, although I was found in breach of the university guidelines and subsequently reprimanded. Despite the minor trouble that was incurred, I feel the event succeeded by exploring my overall research question for the two years ‘Does your offence trump my freedom of expression?’
Professional Skills - Working as part of a team, liaising with Wimbledon Chase School, liaising with Wimbledon art college library, planning a workshop, teaching a workshop, problem solving, curating a display, creating leaflet and poster to accompany the display, increasing footfall to the exhibition, talking so simply about art that children can understand the concepts, composing worksheet.
The course likes us to be forward facing and to engage with the wider world away from the university as part of our professional development. I therefore had a decision to make when we were allocating job roles for the final degree show. With professional development in mind I wanted to be part of the events team, I was, however, worried that I was burdening myself with an extra workload that I could easily swerve. I weighted up the cost/reward ratio and decided it would be worth the extra effort and put myself forward for the responsibility. Myself and Robert Verill took the lead within the group and ideas were brainstormed. We decided we would like to organise a talk, a film showing, guided tours and an outreach programme to a local school. An unspoken arrangement was reached that Rob would arrange the talks, I would arrange the film showing and we would both work on the outreach and tours. Because the school has a local catchment area, our hope was to display the finished work within the university and advertise within the schools weekly newsletter with the idea of maybe some of the parents coming to view their children's work and then maybe have a further look around the space, thus increasing footfall to the exhibition.
Rob made first contact with Wimbledon Chase School and they seemed very enthused to have a group of artists leading a class. The first meeting was attended by myself and Rob and general logistical questions were answered (how many pupils would be involved, how long we would have them for, dates and times etc). In the second meeting Cherish joined us and we proposed a final idea. With space limited during the final shows I decided my best chance of displaying the children's work would be the library. Having submitted a formal proposal and liaising with the library the space was secured and it was decided that 3D pieces would work the best. Our original plan was to use clay and produce vases. In the first meeting with the school it was ascertained that the children had recently worked with clay and we agreed that we would try and come up with a fresh idea. Rob played around and suggested we could make papier mache pots in the first session, they would dry and then a week later in the second session we could decorate the pots. Valerie Vakutina as part of the events team also volunteered to help teach the class. The paper mache idea helped with the library proposal as it offered no health and safety risks. After some technical difficulties it was decided collage would be the best for the decoration. I put together a quick ten-minute talk outlining a brief history of collage within the fine arts, concentrating on DADA. The kids took to the idea and produced some excellent work.
GUIDED TOUR (14/06/19)
Part of the package we offered the school was the chance for the pupils to come and see their work displayed in the library and the chance to sample some contemporary art through the viewing of our own exhibition. The events team intend to guide the kids around and offer a worksheet for them to complete.
CROYDON POP UP (28/06/19)
Professional Skills - Working as part of a team, liaising with artists, liaising with South East Cancer Centre, negotiating terms, organising a tour, curating a pop-up show, increasing footfall to the exhibition.
Zuhura is UAL alumni and an ex member of the Wimbledon MFA fine art course who is currently working with the South East Cancer Centre. Zahura got in touch with Edwina to suggest a collaboration between ourselves and the centre. A meeting was held and Zahura wanted us to arrange a guided tour for members of the centre and for a number of us to visit the centre and put on some sort of event. All this was agreed to but in further correspondence Zahura mentioned that she wanted to hold two separate events on different days. As the centre is a charity I didn’t want to ask for expenses and I explained that if I had to ask the artists to attend for two days would be hard to get volunteers. She agreed and came back with a suggestion that we hold an all-day drop in event in the format of a pop up exhibition. Myself, Cherish, Val and Mitch all agreed to provide for the project.
ART AND FILM (20/06/19)
Professional Skills - Working as part of a team, liaising with Curzon Cinema, liaising with Merton borough council, setting up an open call, working with artists, curating and editing a show reel.
I thought a good event would be to organise a show reel outside of the university, preferability in a cinema so any film and video artists could see their work on the big screen. I contacted the local cinema, which is part the independent group Curzon regarding a hire. My first decision was regarding costs, I didn’t want to approach the finance team to cover it because essentially the rest of the class would be subsidising the film and video artists and instead formulated a pricing structure that would pay for the event. The second decision came from a matter of the law, any film showed in public even to a closed audience requires a BBFC rating, although a local council can also issue a license. I decided it would be easier to deal with the council and got in touch. Having secured the venue and license the final task will be to collect, curate and edit the films.
Professional Skills - Working as part of a team, writing and submitting of proposal, problem solving, liaising with the Student Union, organising the bar, timetabling invigilation.
An opportunity was mentioned to the group that spaces were available throughout the university, provided by the student union. It was suggested that we should apply for one and organise our first group exhibition. We decided as a group it would be too familiar to exhibit in the Wimbledon space and instead applied for Chelsea, as it was also, primarily, a fine arts college and logistically close enough to our own. We also decided it would be nice to include the whole of the class. These decisions meant there were several technical problems that would inform the structure of the show. The space at Chelsea was tiny and our group of exhibiting artists numbered thirty-six. Rather than view this as a problem I instead thought it was an opportunity. The obvious solution was to ensure that each artist produced small works. I decided to run with this idea and suggest we use a standardised size for each work (12”x12”), thus ensuring uniformity and removing any future problems with the curation of such a small space. Along with my theme, the idea was accepted. Having driven through my vision of the exhibition I suggested it was only fair that I write up and submit the proposal. Once the space had been secured, we organised into teams to cover all the aspects of setting up a show, curation, install, marketing etc. My main duties were liaising with Sophie Risner at the student union, arranging and running the bar and organising invigilation. The show was a success on its own terms. As I had hoped, although as artists we were limited by the uniform size of the work, each artist produced a unique and stylistically different piece, each portraying the various and induvial concerns of each of our practices.
WHO WILL PROVIDE?
Professional Skills - Working as part of a team, setting up show, organising the bar, timetabling invigilation.
The crypt show is an opportunity provided by the MFA course and part of our professional development. The crypt is a catacomb housed under St panceras church in kings cross. The space has a unique atmosphere and offers the chance to inject art into a spacewhich is the polar oppersite to the usual white cube set up. Once again it provided the chance to organise a group exhibition. The brief for the show is student led and the only ciretia is that we produce works that are site spectific and engage in a dialouge with the space. Having already worked as a large group for the Conflict show the organisition and division of duties was relativly easy. I assumed my previous role and arranged and run the bar and organised invigilation. Once again, the show was a success.
Professional Skills – Working with an organising committee, liaising with ugly duck, setting up an open call, communicating with artists, curation, hiring and install of lighting equipment, setting up exhibition, problem solving,
During the invigilating of the crypt show Phillipa Weaver mentioned that the exhibition had been a good experience and as a group we should attempt the feat again. At the time I presumed this was just idle chat, I was wrong, within a week Pippa had approached Cherish Marshall with a possible location and asked her to help with the organisation. I was brought on board, initially to help with the proposal although eventually this would become a group effort. With a large amount of help from Patrick ---. Piipa had already enlisted Sean Winn, Robert Verill and Fibbie Wong. Cherish and I then also brought Mitch into the fold.
The postopia exhibition was an ambitious project. At first, I was a little apprehensive. With our study commitments to university and our final show looming I was unsure whether it would be time well spent and even we could pull off such an event. However, as soon as we had assembled a team and a division of labour had been negotiated, these fears were allayed. My mindset flipped, and I now felt that not only could we achieve the goal but we could excel at the task. The show offered the opportunity to hone several professional skills I had been developing during my studies and of course, through the trial and tribulations of fresh endeavours, learn new ones.
The Ugly Duck is an organisation that turns underused buildings into creative spaces. Their head office is in Tanner Street, Bermondsey and the main location of their projects. They curate themed seasonal programmes, where they work in partnership with artists and creatives to produce a programme of events.
Pippa had already been in contact with the Ugly Duck team and established a professional relationship. A meeting was organised, so the rest of the team could meet them and we could look at the space. The space was excellent, well located but huge (three floors). Once we had decided we could in fact fill the space the next task was to secure it. The Ugly Duck had a formal process for proposals and having created a website to add a layer of professionalism, we set about responding to their brief 'In Transition; how technology is changing us?" and summitted an entry. Our proposal 'Postopia; visions of dystopia and utopia but is there something inbetween?' was accepted and became the brief that all the summitting artists worked from. I worked closely with Cherish and we took the lead in terms of general organisation, with individual teams working on particular aspects like marketing and promotion. The show was a roaring success. The Ugly Duck were delighted with the numbers we brought in, (over 550, not bad for a three day pop up show!) and bar a few minor gripes, all the artists were happy with the experience.
“All in all the exhibition was very well organized and executed, which was down to an incredible work ethic from its organizers and curators. This includes everything from the tight focus of the application brief and the communication skills of the project coordinator, to the time management of the installation process and dynamism of the curation. I am intent on remembering and echoing the balance of professionalism, conviction, flexibility, and industriousness that all those involved in Uncovered Collective's 'Postopia' showed throughout.” Stefan Kaufmann (exhibiting artist)
“The first thing that I took from this experience was how important the curators' brief is. In this case it was very clear and could also be read in the context of Ugly Duck's own call for entries. This meant it was much easier to respond to...[and it]...was highly organised and this made for a very professional show.” Hamish Pringle (exhibiting artist)
“Congratulation on your show this weekend, we were very happy about how everything looked, each work was really well produced and greatly presented.” Geraldine Atger (Ugly Duck Creative Project Manager)
Professional Skills – Liaising with a client, costing materials and time, product design, fabrication.
Ironically, the only thing I have sold during the course isn’t any of my art but instead a craft item. One of the lessons I learnt from the 'Who will Provide' show was the lack of advertising in and around the Crypt space. I thought, had we done this, we could have increased our footfall significantly. With this in mind I decided I would make an A-board for the 'Postopia' show. Geradine was impressed by the effort and asked if I could make one for the Ugly Duck. This offered me the chance to develop several professional skills in regards to pricing and how much my labour is worth. In the end I quoted a price that was below my market value but I calculated that the Ugly Duck were a useful professional contact and it was worth doing them a favour.
My main objective entering the course as Stanley Black was to cultivate a persona and to explore being an artist in the world. Having changed my name, I never insisted that my friends and family refer to me in any other way than by my birth name. This has meant I have remained as Dan Mair in my personal life and Stanley Black has become a purely professional construct. Early in the course I mentioned several times that the difference between my under and post graduate learning was one of personal perspective. During my bachelor's degree I viewed myself as student who was studying art, for my masters, I viewed myself as an artist who was at university. Despite always viewing myself as a fully-fledged artist the course has taught me valuable skills and I now feel I have the necessary tools to take myself forward and to become a sustainable art practitioner. I was always aware, that a key factor in returning to education was the opportunities that would naturally present themselves and the importance of becoming part a larger network of fellow artists.
INTO THE FUTURE...
Along with my commitment to Uncovered Collective, I fully intend to take advantage of my graduate status. Having spent the last two years building a body of work, many of the artworks are ready to go. As this normally lasts for twelve months, I will spend this time entering opening calls that I become aware through research or word of mouth. In addition, I will also create new works for any projects that take my fancy. After a year, if I have had no bites, I will reassess my strategy and change tack. I am lucky that I have a job, where I can work three days a week to pay the bills and lead a conformable life. This means I can dedicate another three days to pursuing my art and initially I am under no pressure to make money although my plan is to gradually increase my art income over time.