Year 1 Students Research & Analysis – Writing as Practice

UCA Farnham 1st year students have been developing their research and analysis skills to consider the role of writing in their practice. They have engaged with a number of assignments to develop their written competencies from gallery reviews, reflecting on their practice, to critical and creative writing.

Their writing is disseminated via their blogs and some examples are included below.

Phil Hackett

Big Blue Cock – Un Monumental (Art Review)

July 2013 to January 2015, The Fourth Plinth Trafalgar Square, London.

Hahn/Cock is a sculpture of a giant blue cockerel by the German artist Katharina Fritsch that currently occupies the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square.

It is a gleeful feminist sculpture, poking amiable fun at the vainglorious monuments of DWM (dead white men; like Lord Nelson, George IV, and Generals Havelock and Napier) that surround it in this most imperial and public of British spaces. “Humour is always a big thing for me. It stops things from becoming too severe. I like English humour as it is so often very dark.” (Fritsch, 2013)

The Thorney Island Society, a local conservation group, objected to the sculpture on the grounds that it was “unrelated to the context of Trafalgar Square and adds nothing to it but a feeble distraction”, but The Guardian’s chief arts writer pointed out that Fritsch’s other works have a habit of appearing fanciful, dramatic and unrelated to their contexts “one should not overthink it. It’s a big, blue, funny, weird, surreal bird in Trafalgar Square. It’s going to cheer us all up. Katharina’s Cock, as I like to think of it, should be a hit.” (Higgins, 2013)

Katharina’s Cock captures popular imagination and public support because of its immediate appeal and joyful snub at the masculine environment in the square whilst also becoming a focal point for discussions about the place of contemporary art in public spaces, making it relational and participatory, it is both monumental and un-monumental, it is a site specific piece and yet is also non site specific.

The fourth plinth, is in the square’s north-west corner of Trafalgar Square. Built in 1841, it was designed to hold an equestrian statue – like its twin, in the northeast corner that depicts George IV but funds ran out and it remained empty until in 1998 the first in a series of temporary sculptures for the plinth were commissioned. Works by Rachel Whiteread, Yinka Shonibare, Mark Wallinger and Antony Gormley are among those to have occupied the space previously.

Hahn/Cock, which was selected by the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group (a body that includes artists Grayson Perry and Jeremy Deller), occupies Trafalgar Square for 18 months.


Quote Source:



Image Source:

Fig. 1

Additional Information:

Dead White Men:



Exhibition Review – Marcius Galan, White Cube, Bermondsey, London.

Marcius Galan – Geometric Progression, 17th July – 29th September 2013

White Cube, Bermondsey, London.

Fig. 1 Three Sections, 2010. wax, wall painting, light filters and wood.

Calming, warming, green hue that has taken over the entire gallery space, a site specific installation made of strips of wood with a green inlay/rebated strip which add/increase the perception/illusion that there is a physical (glass/glazed) barrier.

The gallery space was filled with a rhythmic, ‘in the womb’ soundtrack, a motor spinning  a grinding wheel and the hypnotic grinding noise of a disc being slowly erased as it is ground into sparks (Eclipse 2013. Looped film and soundtrack. A spinning grinding wheel with a small ferrous disc held against it, with changing contrasting back lighting throughout).

‘Eclipse’ evoked thoughts of time and space, high contrast lighting, slow movements, like the iconic space station scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick). A spinning black hole, with sparks emitting a random repetitive pattern, chaos and order, the beginning of space, time and the universe, universal elements and forces that created everything.

The tonal effect of the colours and lighting in ‘Three Sections’ (Fig. 1) created depth of field, the sense of looking through multiple layers of glass, a physical barrier, an illusion. Was it to keep us out or to keep something in? Imprisoning something or nurturing and encouraging it to grow?

Fig. 2 Erased Composition (Progressive) 2013. Erasers and wooden frame.

Geometric pattern of erasers in various states of wear (from use), rubbings collected in a drift (piled) at the bottom of the frame.

‘Erased Composition (Progressive)’ (Fig. 2) is reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning (1951) and along with ‘Eclipse’ reminded me of various myths and modern idioms; Sisyphus’s toil against enforced drudgery, a never ending task, the supposed benefits of elbow grease, to keep your nose to the grindstone, working hard is the only means to succeed. A metaphor for the human spirit worn down by life’s daily grind?

Bringing to mind a Billy Apple (Barrie Bates) piece I saw earlier in the day at the Mayor Gallery, Cork Street, “If you wipe a dirty spot off a wall you’ve removed it, but you haven’t eliminated it. You’re stuck with a dirty cloth you didn’t have before.” (1971).

Galan may have erased the erasers but we are still left with a pile of rubbings and shavings at the bottom of the frame. A shitty job is still a shitty job regardless of the salary.

Both ‘Immobile’ (Fig. 3)  and ‘Three Sections’ (Fig. 1) were very well exhibited, in their own designated (installation) spaces, pushing the boundaries of the illusion, challenging the viewer, to reassess the object in front of them, the fabric of the installation as well as the practice undertaken to create them. Whereas the rest of the exhibited works were not so well curated, with objects overlapping each other’s observational space if not their physical space, a room of simple pieces with complex political and social messages that were not complimented by being crowded together.

Galan tackles various elements of the human condition, how we surround ourselves with restrictive invisible barriers, to protect or nurture, that also prevent us from achieving more. The way people believe or are tricked into believing that they have freedom even though they are weighed down with worry by materiality, debts, responding to consumerist societal pressures. Galan’s use of materials defies our preconceptions, steel sheets folded like paper, string and wire under tension, appearing to suspend the object attached, when they are actually weighed down by them, art works made from objects that are normally used to remove marks from the surface.

Fig. 3 Immobile, 2013. Wood, coin, cables and iron.

A giant mobile, counterbalanced, under tension, and suspension, from the very large to the very small. Immobile, as all the discs are stationary, resting on the ground.

Marcius Galan (born 1972)

Galan lives and works in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Galan has become internationally recognised when he won the PIPA (Premio Investidor Profissional de Arte) in 2012 after being a finalist in 2010. (

Marcius Galan was born in Indianapolis, USA, but returned to live in the home country of his parents, Brazil before he was old enough to walk and talk in English.

He graduated in Art at the FAAP (Fundacao Armando Alvares Peneteado) in 1997.

As well as being recognised by PIPA, in 2003 he won a residency of six months in Cité des Arts in Paris through FAAP and in 2004 spent 3 months in residency at the Art Institute of Chicago through the Iberê Camargo Scholarship Program.

Galan exhibited as a solo artist in Brazil from 2004 but did not exhibit further afield until 2007 having now exhibited across South America, North America and Europe with his solo exhibition at the White Cube, Bermondsey (July 17th – September 29th 2013) being my first interaction with his work.

Galan is interested in the measuring of things, how to measure and ‘weigh up the world’, from the artistic philosophical sciences, a renaissance approach to understanding the world, through to the specific, technical atomic measurements of the modern scientific world. The traverse of time, the way mankind measures time and the elements within his art that can represent the passing of time are all fascinating to him.

He works with industrial, construction, stationary and office materials, questioning how objects function, subverting the logic of how things are supposed to work, how they are linked through time as well as space. Sculpture, installation and drawing, painting art works are all produced by Galan.

“for me art is a… it’s my way of trying to understand the world, you know? For me, a work only makes sense when I’m learning with it.” Marcius Galan

Image Sources:

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Fig. 3

Pippa Ward


So – week 2 … the painting, sanding, transferring continues – but happy with the result as the grid grows.  I’m seeing differences in the finish between them, and happy that I am not so focussed on the final result that I am not able to experiment a little with technique.  I look forward to playing with the individual square images to see if I can find a more meaningful order.

I was aware this week that I would like to be a part of the Gustav Metzger exhibition … I have researched his work and find that although I don’t necessarily get excited by the methods he uses to express his ideas, it is impossible not to admire his efforts to use art to highlight causes he believes in.  

This is the overall piece at present and a couple of details … 


Gustav Metzger (born April 10, 1926) is an artist and political activist who developed the concept of Auto-Destructive Art. Metzger is recognized for his protests in the political and artistic realms. and throughout the 60 years that Metzger has been producing politically engaged works, he has incorporated materials ranging from trash to old newspapers, liquid crystals to industrial materials, and even acid.

Although my piece is more about giving the rejected, the trashed and discarded a new life, it is closely connected to his theme of extinction.  I have written my proposal and slid it under the Fine Art office door hoping that my visual piece and my concept fit their bill!

Although this week was a bit manic knowing that I would be away for the Metzger deadline, I have enjoyed the need to push myself and I enjoyed having a focus to achieve a resolved piece.



Martin Creed Review – What’s the Point of it?


The Martin Creed exhibition was at the Hayward – but not as we know it!   Walls had been removed, stairs barred, lifts and toilets inhabited by art.

The first thing that hits you (luckily not literally) is a monumental steel girder spinning around the room just above head height.  It is amazing that this is allowed in the days of Health and Safety madness.  On top of the steel girder is a neon sign saying MOTHER … apparently made because ‘mothers are big’ said Martin Creed ‘they have to be bigger than their babies in order to give birth to them’.  Ah yes, so they do!

And the noise – well that is created by 39 metronomes – why 39? …’because there are 39 speeds on a metronome and I didn’t know which one was the best, so I put in one of each’ said Martin Creed.  I liked the noise – it was playful and quite meditative.

The next room was like a giant playroom and I was slightly disappointed that none of it was interactive – it was full of bright colours, repetitive images and things (chairs, girders, felt pen pictures etc) and the rather silly piece where the gallery attendants took it in turns to slowly play each note on the piano upwards and downwards!

Creed is a lover of diversity … he orders and reconfigures objects, colours and textures into unexpected series and sequences based on certain principles or limitations.  He comprises playful and emotive meditations on the invisible structures that shape our lives.  Among other things, the work reflects on the unease we face in making choices, the comfort in repetition, the desire to control, and the inevitable losses of control that shape our existence.

Of course there were some pieces at which we said ‘really?!’ … such as the minute piece of bluetak on the wall, the torn pieces of paper, the farting noises, but over all it made me smile … even the giant rising and falling penis!


Melissa Short



Work in Progress Post (Week ending 14th Feb 2014)



In my studio practice I have been focusing a lot on how I can represent the concept of space and non-spaces. I have kind of found a way into this through researching into texts such as ‘Non-Places’ by Marc Auge and ‘Rhythmanalysis’ by Henri Lebebvre and I think that by reading these it has really helped me to explore the idea of the consumption of space and movement in space and I am now a bit more able to accurately represent ideas of spaces, places and non-places.

I feel like lately I had been finding it hard to move forward in some elements of my studio work, because although I was reading a lot and attempting to transfer all this new found information into an artistic language, I still was finding it hard. So, when I was talking to a peer about artists that they were interested in, I came across an artist called Jeremy Miranda which really struck inspiration for me!

I found that Jeremy Miranda’s work was interpreting the ideas of space that I had in a similar way and I was really interested to maybe start interpreting some of the pieces that he had made into my own style and with my own subject matter. I thought that this would be a very good way to start applying the research and reading I had done into some practical work by interpreting Jeremy Miranda’s style.

 Jeremy Miranda – ‘Greenhouses’ (2012)

So over the next week I begun making quick drawings and collages of different contrasting spaces, such as urban landscapes, occupied homes and natural places and landscapes. I really liked how these were going, but I did feel a little lost by how I was going to progress from here… I (possibly) need to stop worrying!!


My plan is to perservier with this quite large painting and make some other collages and continue to look at contrasting spaces and keep researching as much as possible into artists and philosophers that share this interest in spaces that are consumed or maybe don’t even count as a space at all. Talking to a university tutor helped me to also think about how I could consume space within my work.. for example, could the shape or frame of my work be the limit of the space I have created? Or could there be more?!

In the drawing unit this week, I noticed that these sessions were really starting to influence my practice when an artists was talked about that really helped me to figure out what I wanted to create that day… the artist was Matthew Ritchie. I am really inspired by his work and the way he ‘maps out’ and draws his ideas; I think his drawings are beautiful – they look very scientific and have a very informative feel to them, if that makes sense!

  Matthew Ritchie

After seeing this work by Ritchie, I was inspired in my drawing and studio practice to look at ‘mapping out’ spaces within my drawings and so I created some quick ink, pencil and white emulsion paint drawings on graph paper of my ideas to do with how space can be consumed with systems and structures. I really liked these drawings, but I felt they were lacking a little in something that I am not yet quite sure of!

 My work (Feb 2014)

So in the next coming weeks I am going to Paris with the university and here I want to be inspired by the architectural spaces as much as possible and hopefully get a lot of recording of information made as possible! I really love the ideas I have been getting about creating spaces that conflict and contrast and hopefully I will find these within Paris (I’m sure I will!) And I want to carry on attempting to represent these spaces or non-places or places within spaces (?) and see what happens!!


Toby McVittie




I choose to write when I’m out and about on my iPad as I can speak my thoughts.  I take it everywhere with me.

I love to write longhand on old fashioned lined paper because it feels all retro and makes my work look historic.

I only write on a computer when I have written ideas onto paper first. When I have gathered enough notes I feel ready to transfer them onto the computer.

Word play is something I like to use.  It works well in text on images. It gives a possible different meaning to an image.

I work rough so I can quickly get my ideas on paper before the idea gets lost or forgotten.  Then I redraft my ideas again so I can make sense of it.

My writing is small. I find it easier to write more with smaller handwriting.

It depends on the subject. If it’s something I’m passionate about I find it easier to write about. In that case it would be a pleasure. In general however it isn’t usually my favourite thing.

If anything I would be slow at writing I find it difficult to write lots of words on paper.

I always plan before I write to get an understanding of what I’m going to write about.


I write with little punctuation and then correct afterwards.



Billy Spanoudes


Carving A Piece of Wood


Stressed and angry I give up what I am doing and I instinctively pick up my knife and a piece of 2×1 pine wood and I sit on the floor. I have been overthinking about the future and all of my thoughts were hitting a brick wall. I am furious. Too much uncertainty. I wish I could controll my future. . . I am staring at my knife, ‘what a lovely tool’ I think to myself and I recall all the time and effort I put in making it and momentarily I feel so proud of myself. But no; I should not comfort myself with pride. I am angry and I should be angry because I am not sure and I have no control over my future. Back to reality. My back aches from the hours spent sitting infront of the computer screen thinking and searching for the thinks that will make my art exceptional. Enough with all of this. I should clear my mind and I must calm down. I pick up the piece of wood with my left hand and with my knife, held in my right, I slice off its top right corner. I am amazed by how little effort it took to take such a big piece off the block. I felt the whole thing though. I felt how the steel touched and teared through the wood’s fibers. I now realise how instinctive it was for me to cut this piece of wood totaly aware of its grain. A skill I optained with experience through trial and error. I then proceed to take off another slice from the piece. I love the smell of freshly cut wood. The smell of pine resin from the cut is in the air. Not wanting to make a mess with all my shavings I lean forward to get a sheet of A1 size paper from under my bed. As I strech I can feel my spine streching too. It is such a relief from my back-ache. I then put the sheet on the floor in order to collect my wood shavings making it easyer for me to gather them after I am done. I still have no idea what I want this piece to be. I guess I will just let it tell me what it wants to be as I go on. I already feel better. My heartbeat droped down back to its normal rate. I take another slice of the wooden piece. I get absorbed by the act of creating, and I cannot stop myself from continuously slising off the rough corners of the wooden piece I am holding. I further refine its shape, smoothening its rough edges giving back to it a more organic form. I feel as if I am giving it back life, eventhough I am reducing its size and shape. This is so meditative for me. I am no longer angry nor stressed. I start to see clearly and it is at this moment when I am putting my last touches to the piece, this exact magical moment that I shave the last little bit from it that I come to realise what a fool I was to lose my temper. I can now see how I can control my future, how I can control my life. My future is defined by what I do in the present. It is defined by what I chose to do now. And just like the wooden piece, I shouldn’t worry so much about the result, it is all about the process. ‘It is not about the destination, it is all about the journey’. And in this journey I choose to be happy. Cause I might not be able to control the future but at least I can control the present.


Amy Scott Pillow


Questions about Space

Virtual Vs Physical Space


How much physical space does VIRTUAL space take up?

  • Define virtual space; internet; human thought
    • is the internet a medium for human thought? the internet does have a physical space, in storage, in servers and hardware, servers are getting smaller as technology advances, but more and more information is put into this giant server, taking up even more physical spaces [1]


How do you measure space?

  • no human knows how much space there is in the universe
  • can space be measured?
    • is space even a quantity?
      • humans quantify spaces by volume, size and mass. but does space even have a mass? [2]
  • Space is a lack of something.
    • a continuous area or expanse that is free, available, or unoccupied

• an area of land that is not occupied by buildings

• an empty area left between one-, two-, or three-dimensional points or objects

• a blank between printed, typed, or written words, characters, numbers, etc.

• Music each of the four gaps between the five lines of a staff.

• the freedom and scope to live, think, and develop in a way that suits one

  • the dimensions of height, depth, and width within which all things exist and move : the work gives the sense of a journey in space and time.
  • (also outer space) the physical universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere.


Can space be made? [3]

  • Can space be affected?
    • Do thoughts take up space?
      • or do thoughts just appear within a space, mad move something else away or take the space of something else
      • can something be created in a space? or does something take it’s place.
        • what is the difference between a place and a space?[4]


Space is infinite but also finite?


  1. if you can make information virtually it is being stored physically. everything is physical, there is no virtual space.
  2. it can’t have a mass because it is not a substance
  3. no, it is everything it is not physical only physical things can be made, and things can only be made from other things, energy cannot be lost only transferred
  4. a place is an area within space that also contains space








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