Katrina Palmer (2015) End Matter

This a recommendation from tutorial 4, in relation to the Hornet Tree; we discuss it in tutorial 5 (and it is included in the tutor report).

Here an interview with the artist:

I really enjoy the form and presentation; I think the project is great to see as level of ambition and what is possible with my fiction/narratives, how these can be developed.

The theme of loss and adjusting for loss on Portland as quarry, hollowed out island is fascinating. I see how my own stories are very different to hers which are historical stories, almost ghost tales; I like the irreverence with which she breaks conventions and introduces contemporary concerns but also a whole range of meta-physical questions (via Hegel) to her invented site of the Loss Adjusters’ Office. That this office features a number of photocopiers, the sensuality (a constant hum, some warmth) of these as one way of coping with the task of adjusting loss, is quite ingenious and intrigues me no end; similar: her way of writing herself into these unstable stories and timelines.

Some of audio production is less interesting to me: it seems too polished with echo effects, I take issue with the actual voices; but these are smaller concerns.

That the project is available at a distance is great. I order End Matter, the small book publication and read it quickly. Again: some of the production choices are a little forced but also kind of work well for me in terms of her ambition and what she tries to achieve as a fictional, almost metaphysical narrative that is strongly conceptual and at once sensorial, sensual even.

The site which hosts the overall project and the audio files is here.

The bookworks publication page, here.

— I will return to this, no doubt

reflection on tutorial 5: m(e)use

The post that contains the tutor report already included a few reflections: notably about the mutability of the two most recent projects (and where they belong, as Timelines Assignment or as Parallel Project).

Here some more thoughts, reflections:

  • the timing for this module’s conclusion is the tightest I have ever worked with. It is not an easy way for me to work and yet I also see what is possible with such tightness and focus.
  • I often can work with good speed and focus, but usually on my own terms, not to some external deadline.
  • So: part 5 only speculates on a number of things, produces a rather narrow line of experimentation along the way; and still: I also feel this fits to where things are: there is a lot of material that I generated along the way of this module and it seems fitting to let this surface and make it explicit part of the work itself (the projects around the corridor, its spatial planes).
  • While we didn’t spend much time yet reviewing the overall module, some glimpses of such review have arisen already as I begin to chart and map out what L3 work can be and what remains to be concluded here and now, what can remain open, and what should be moved into the next modules.
  • In this sense, I feel that both Timelines assignment and Parallel Project (and indeed the Critical Review) encompass much in terms of focus, practice, themes and also voice) from earlier parts of the module and indeed serve as a focussing lens itself: around the form of engagement that I seek (a notion of playfulness which hovers between tension and enjoyment; the fleetingness of some of the interventions; the ordinariness of the materials; a moving across and within both digital and analog, which manifests in form but also in sensorial register; a seeking of openings, alternatives with and in the work; how it constitutes an extended field of drawing and thus indeed proposes an interdisciplinary practice).
  • The tightness of the schedule sharpens this strongly; and the recent suggestions of work to investigate (Rist, Palmer) have really helped with this and to allow for the broader themes to arise and articulate.
  • Doug generally asks a question to start with that lets me trace my process, a particular theme, and while I do so rather practically, this works well to draw out the bigger themes and links within and across. I have found this approach to the tutorials and the work itself incredibly helpful and insightful to trace and draw out key links across (which I often sense intuitively and make work with intuitively, but the extent to which these are contextually embedded and what they link back out to, is at the point of the tutorial not entirely clear yet, here the form of dialogue is really valuable).

reflection on tutorial for assignment 4

I have already posted a few things, notably thoughts on how to present my sketchbook work and experiments for assessment in a series of posts (Experiments and Sketchbooks for this modulesketchbooks for this module: process and circulation[untitled album] Facebook sketchbook: excerpt) which are a reflection on the tutorial for the most recent assignment.

Following the tutorial I arrive at a point where I have a clear sense where this module has taken me and what a conclusion to it is. I am pleased to have articulated what is contained in the the Hornet Tree and discuss this both as a small, intimate piece of work which nonetheless reaches out – so to speak across the garden hedge, into the world, and speaks to contemporary concerns around diversity, divergence, ambiguity and a non-authoritarian social and political practice (ways for me to circumscribe anti-fascism). In this, Hornet Tree in its form is not dissimilar to earlier works (Der Grund, House, the line) but it seems to me that with this work I have begun to be able to articulate it in a way that does not feel so personal as some of the other works have seemed.

— this feels quite significant, big to me, and it feels also as if I am at the point that I can see the benefit of having stuck with the degree course and the numerous rounds of learning that it offered: there is a sense of an artistic practice emerging that can hold the above in balance and tension and be articulate with it.

The suggestion to explore various strands through speculation, sketches, marquettes was really useful and significant too, as I know that sometimes I falter at the prospect of not being able to enact or carry out an experiment. Allowing myself to scale down and think, write, model, illustrate through it seems feasible to not enact the block of not finding the means (time, finances, space) to enact it (this was something that at times I felt stuck with earlier suggestions about my work during the photography module).

I feel I have a good sense how the longer, parallel project relates to the main course work, assignments and while it is not quite concluded, there are two possible aims/goals and both are promising; and both will also then clarify work for Level 3.

I am excited to see the pace and intensity this course has acquired right now, in particular as the time has been personally demanding for me, so this is good to see and from this vantage point to look forward to Body of Work and Contextual Studies.

[untitled album] Facebook sketchbook: excerpt

[ this is the third post in a series of posts pulling together the role and sites of my sketchbooks for this module. The previous posts are here:

Experiments and Sketchbooks for this module

sketchbooks for this module: process and circulation]

My main sketchbook for this module consists of a facebook album, [untitled album], which contains 300+ posts since the start of the module. The posts are often image-based, with stills, and over the course of the module also around 50+ video clips. They experiment with juxtaposition of images, text/images, they are performative in front of the lens, with the image edge, but also in terms of the writing and the juxtaposition of text/image. A small number of the posts are referencing other people’s texts, a few exhibitions; a small number of posts also are reflective in the sense that I condense previous work, reconsider where it can go next. Publishing it to a small-ish audience (around 60 people) has been useful as a way for me testing relationships within the material itself, but also positions around audience, around voice/position.

For assessment, this material will be presented as a PDF to the assessors. As the material also contains sometimes extensive discussion with others, I will not move it out of the Facebook container.

Below however a few screenshots of the material (as the easiest way to move it into the wordpress environment) — they are in chronological order and from the early part of the module (around Assignment 1, the gap):

Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.01.19Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.01.33Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.01.50Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.07Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.22Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.34Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.42Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.02.51Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.03.03Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.03.48Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.03.55Screen Shot 2018-09-02 at 13.04.09

Experiments and Sketchbooks for this module

I and we, in the tutorials, keep returning to this:

  • What constitutes the working practice, the experimentation that I do for this course and in general.
  • It arose in the first tutorial with the suggestion that I would develop my own projects and pursue these to work with the course materials. A number of projects arose from this, namely
    • Corridor breaks
    • a brief round of lens/ink/diffuser within the institutional space (which moved out side as the use of the tracing paper, with more extended experimentation)
    • walking and drawing Green
  • The experiments seemed too brief for Green (Assignment 3) and we talked about it at length then of what I am foreclosing,
  • I was deliberate in recording my experiments in more detail for Hornet Tree (Assignment 4)

I agreed with the sense that I was restricting what I was doing within the institutional space (it was indeed part of the process of leaving and moving outdoors), and that I could see that also having resulted in a relatively tight form of working, experimenting.

I also however had the sense that I do experiment rather extensively and went to look for evidence of that:

  • on my camera roll as still and moving image
  • the video clips are currently difficult to publish here (unless I want to go through vimeo or instagram), so many of them don’t get posted (and I think I will for the remainder of the degree purchase a wordpress subscription that allows video upload; for a different project I have such a subscription and I like the easy of upload and integration)
  • I am not so good at writing up summary posts, so a number of experiments don’t get published;
  • these experiments however also do not exist in physical sketchbooks as much is photography and moving image;
  • the site where I extensively experiment is Facebook however, the main sketchbook album has 300 posts; these are practice rather than reflective: they use still, moving image, text and recording as a practice that is performative and/or writing-based.
  • There are a few more specific albums (one on digital/analogue; one on found objects; and one with a rather small public in which I discuss some of the more personal themes as they move into a wider public setting).
  • I also have an evernote account where I have a few notebooks which also function as a private account for notetaking, experimenting.


I am planning on downloading the key albums off Facebook and turn them into a PDF (most likely) or possibly even print them (less likely) and submit alongside my other sketchbooks (which aren’t many, I think to date 3 of the thin paper moleskin ones).

This is the facebook post that I write about my first round of revisiting the album in which I experiment for the purpose of making it accessible outside my rather limited Facebook public:


I almost didn’t revisit the photocopier (still not having worked out what has come to an end there) but by lunchtime I felt so flat that I needed a pick-up after a morning of training schedule finetuning which didn’t quite alleviate the ghosts of the night before. They were good, the new photocopies of the tracing paper, and they are different too to what was before, so all is good. Soon after I felt really flat again, too undecisive whether to turn left to the pool or right, home, I just sat on a bench for a while until decision arrived.
I have started to download my main sketchbook here (the untitled album, which I started when I started the Drawing module). One of the most interesting conversations yesterday concerned what we respectively understood as experiment. I told him of my FB albums, he said: yes, I like how you reflect on things. I: No! They are not reflections, they are doing stuff. Not all my text is reflection, a lot is performance, a lot is drawing, a lot is writing as practice. I am not sure he was convinced. I reiterated this line in the minutes that I just sent off and started to download. 2 months are done of 12, I also realise that I set up a number of extra albums in the process: my digital sex gender thing that is bat run twice; the found objects on streets albums, and much in the close/open also functions for the more private/unworked out stuff… I will have a look which ones of these will go to assessment, or will just be circumscribed.
but: for once I am at ease with my FB data, it provides me with the evidence of my argument, and some really good examples, of what I clarify in image, post, gif, sticker and sometimes a series of further comments. it does what i claimed it did: experiment, sketch. it also provides me with a memory plaything to model, subvert, believe in.

Image may contain: text


I continue to discuss the questions around my sketchbooks in my next post here.

Geerz/Shalev-Geerz (1996/ unrealised) The Geese of Feliferhof

I saw this earlier in the summer, a colleague seeking someone to write an essay on this piece of work. I have kept returning to it:

Four flagpoles, four flags, to be raised and lowered daily on the grounds of an Austrian army barracks. The proposal one a prize and was chosen to be realised, yet never did become realised.

— I think that latency in this proposal makes is so relevant as to what is at the heart of the proposal itself: a gauge, a yard stick as to the state of the military: whether it would enact the routine, make the piece of art exist. Or not.

The initial phrases on the flags were chosen by the artist, they were to change annually, the later ones selected by the army personnel themselves.

In English they translate as:

  • Courage is punishible by death
  • Treason will be decorated
  • Barbarism is the soldier’s bride
  • Soldiers we are called, too



Irina Nakhova (1984/2018) Room 2

Russian artist Nakhova recreates within the Tate Modern one of her ‘total installations’ that she set up during the 1980s in the Soviet Union, where she was not an ‘official artist’ but an unofficial one: she describes this as her art having been free inside her apartment; she and her circle of friends were free to do what they wanted but would never be shown or seen ‘in public’, officially.

The installations existed for about a fortnight each, then they were dismantled to allow for the other things that need to take place in her home to take place.

She describes the sense of disorientation when ‘visiting’ her flat as she recreated it in the gallery. It feels claustrophobic to her.  She also talks about feminism and macho art critics who would show people, men, around her apartment. The original footage is really interesting.

Interests for me:

  • duration: both of when it existed but the distance/memory enacted in its re-creation.
  • it is clearly not true that there was no audience/ no public for it: friends visited, artists visited, it is documented and now gets a Tate installation
  • the blurring of space by covering it over and crawling inside.


— this was discussed on the OCA discuss forum, thank you, Stefan for bringing it to my attention

Kwame Akoto-Bamfo (2018) Nkiyinkyim Installation (permanent exhibit), Montgomery-Alabama

i saw this on my feed yesterday afternoon. it stuck for many hours. — some thoughts (which are around representation but then also about what themes to work with):

— the rust, the rust: it is weeping, seeping onto bodies long dead and we watch and watch.

— the comment thread. it is agitated, people are offended. some of them realise that that is the point.

sculpture, in particular its cast in metal, figurative variations, often leaves me cold, or, more so still: push me away. i think it is flesh turned into metal and the tradition with which it comes which stands almost diametrically opposite to what interests me in a now that is fleeting, temporary. here it is similar. and yet: it is the cheap metal chain’s bleeding that first catches my eye: that what binds is bleeding, the people it binds often with mouths wide open, in agony. i type without looking again.

the rust, the bleed: a simple effect of how iron oxidises when left to the elements, a simple: if a, then b. it is what makes this work more than a statue, it is living moving thing. it continues. it is not cast in metal but bleeds and bleeds and bleeds. knowing one’s material to choose it for this is important.


my next set of thoughts: i can’t begin to understand how it must be, feel, express for Kwame Akoto-Bamfo to dedicate his time, his heart, his skill to create these figures. To build the cast, the figure, to chain it and to admit it to visibility and the elements. I can’t begin to fathom what dream, what intent, what pain and passion he pursues and draws on. — For me, even working with far more singular traumatic events as source material, as I have done for a good part of the course so far has been trying, has been hard; and for each project I would be so relieved that it was completed. Some of them were cathartic, at other times I realised I was making things so much harder for myself by seeking to process those subject matters. But of course, there were moments that compelled me.


These thoughts come at a time when I am thinking about the subject matter for my body of work. For the past three years I had assumed it would be my mother’s childhood home (House), so much material around it exists (some of it in this flickr set and a related website), enough time has possibly passed to address it and develop it for a public setting. Throughout this Drawing module I moved to a different set of concerns and a working practice that is closer to the ground, the process, the enquiry again: to let the tools and methods lead me to the substantive concerns. This work, as well as the earlier work that already concerns the House are often processed and presented in a form of play, with a tenderness and some humour, they play for lightness, a slight sense of touch, that if it catches you right may open a door to the stuff it also contains. It is that translation, that holding together which is the act that costs so much but is also rewarding.

Over the past few weeks I have come to the conclusion that I will not, as a substantive topic, revisit House and prepare for it to be rebuilt as an exhibition in a couple of years. Instead, I will let the themes of this current module, its exploration of control, agency, a gap, a movement, a boundary transgressed (and the various tools with which I have begun to interrogate these themes) guide me — there will be enough of the other, more difficult stuff, contained in them already. This clarity has been good to arrive at. These figures through which the Middle Passage is a thing of today, bleeding on and on, not just in an outdoors space at a Memorial in Alabama but on my phone on the way from the airport to my home, have clarified some of the above.


I read some more: Akoto-Bamfo had been denied a visa to the US for the opening of the exhibit in April 2018; an interview with him about the work is here. His own website here.

research point: Emily Kame Kngwarreye

[this is reposted from a FB post, which also included a bit more of a discussion of those who were there, those who settled, unsettled.]

I kind of didn’t expect to find what I found. I was looking through the course notes to see what needs adding before submission.
I had glanced through the research point but kind of found a whole set of landscape sketches in a sketchbook underneath and glanced some notion about passion and place and kind of read on, didn’t stop.
now i looked and recognise her work, if not her name: Emily Kame Kngwarreye, who died in the mid-1990s, who designated for her proper name to be used for her work after and for it to be known by her name.
She painted her dreaming, the dreaming of Yam, of Kame, it is part of her name as much as she was the guardian for the women’s dreaming in her Country Alhalkere, next to the settlement of Utopia, a couple hundred kilometres away from Alice Springs.
It is such a weird way that First Nation art that was hugely successful (and exploited) through Western art markets appears in the course: it is not named. It starts with a quote by her which names her dreamings (and as such can be contextualised). And yet: it wants to own it as pastoralist longing to a place. (I am thinking of Jarman’s Journey to Avebury, but I am often thinking of that, so this is neither here nor there).
I am not quite sure what else I can say: the work is stunning, it almost lifts off the screen, the canvas, the ground. Of course it does: so much transmits through this work, it is replete with place, with dreaming, with belonging, with a life lived (she was 80 when she started painting, produced about a painting a day for the next 8 years).

The link to the exhibition site is here. Yam, 1989 is one of her dot paintings.

A rather poor copy of Jarman’s Journey to Avebury is here on youtube:

The discussion on FB makes me also recall John Wolseley’s drawing practice in the outback. Trying to trace his work I come across this Drawing as Performance article in Fusion Journal.

Art and Environment workshop (28-29 July 2018): Day 1 Phytology

I went to the two-day workshop organised by the OCA tutors Melissa Thompson and Dan Harrison. Day one was outside at Phytology in Bethnal Green, day two indoors at the South London Botanical Institute in West Norwood. This post is about the first day.

The group composition for each day was different, except for three of us who attended both days. The first day was focussed on ideas, the second on process. Each day had a brief talk introduction to the site/ project by someone from their.

Phytology is a stunning site and project. A high metal fences on the outside and the greenery inside hide it from view, the site is open on Saturdays over the summer, has a number of paid staff and volunteers. Its heart is a raised bed of medicinal plants that grow in East London. It is a former bomb site and has existed for six years.

Both days we did an introduction round, on Day 1 this was extensive and really good as a way to see people coming to the workshop, most of us on the Creative Arts pathway and some way into the degree.

We then on day 1 were given a series of short instruction for 5 minutes exercises went off to do these and reconvened for a discussion of these, a shared lunch and talk from the writer-in-residence and then repeated with more exercises and a final closing discussion.

I loved the format of the exercises: they were brief, time limited and I realised that I work really well with time as external limitation. They were fairly similar and so I could continue with a theme throughout, drawing in a range of different responses. I won’t reproduce all of them but a good few:

The exercise instructions (left for morning, right for afternoon):

  1. observe growth: a series of video clips seeking buds that haven’t died off on a bush in this dry weather
  2. observe and document a non-human being and find your relationship between it and you: I turn round a snail and draw its underneath. I feel slightly intrusive doing so, also want to make sure it isn’t drying out. I carefully turn it back round once I have finished; later someone else stands in the spot and I want to call out to her not to step on the snail (but I don’t)
  3. Five minutes in the life of…. the sun (how humble of me):
    I look up and start finding it everywhere above me, sometimes hidden behind a cloud though
  4. Make a series of interventions into the site… alter, interrupt, cut, help, assist, edit, underline
    – the edit and underline intrigue me. I start with underlining some leaves on the trees in still photography:

    I then, on the fourth, find a blue band on a twig and it sways strongly in the heavy winds. I make a video clip of it:

View this post on Instagram

intervention: underline #weareoca

A post shared by lena draws (@draw___lena) on



For the afternoon, I did these, in a similar part of the site (I never got back to explore the medicinal plant section

  1. Spend five minutes recording movement and flow:
    I stand and wait
    nothing moves
    in five minutes
    I look up from the screen
  2. Find and use an alternative tool: the parallel striations in a mark as base for a rubbing (front and back)
  3. img_4287Start an intense relationship with a plant. What questions will you ask: I continue from the first exercise in the morning to investigate the state of plants in this drought. I take a video clip.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by lena draws (@draw___lena) on

The discussions were really useful, I liked the interest and methodology, what the two tutors brought to this and all participants as well as discussions over how this can be continued. I will write some more about my own working methods and what it brought up for me at the end of the second post on day 2 of the workshop.