MA FA week 9 – a busy week

Creativity and subversion research

This week I have been continuing my research into creativity and subversion.   I had one of those wonderful afternoons when I started off with Picasso, read all about the women at ‘Remaking Picassos Guernica” which lead me to a whole activist movement I have not heard about – Craftism.  I love their style!


I was reading a blog about some of the stuff they do and one craftist leaves small cross stitch works with inspiring messages on ‘in the wild’ for people to find.  The same principle as Free Art Friday.   She said she was inspired by the artist Susan O’Malley.    This led me to spend a couple of hours researching her and it was a bitter sweet experience.  I love her work, the colours ping and her work is touching, moving and amusing.  She really embraced living in the moment and  I was so excited to have found an artist that I really connected with and yet the sad news is she died unexpectedly last February aged 38 – life is short and most of us do not make the huge impact that Susan did.
I really liked her “Finding your center” exhibition from 2014.   It has echoes of what I am thinking about at the moment.
I was left with a sense of sadness but like the craftist before me, I am inspired to do something similar, particularly with my Free Art Friday pieces which I want to get back into doing each week.

Susan O’Malley

Grayson Perry

I also spent the week listening to the excellent Leith Lectures with Grayson Perry – hours and hours of them!   I have listened to them before but now I am more of an insider than an outsider so much more made sense.    I was about to replay some pieces in order to transcribe some quotes when I found that the BBC have helpfully done transcripts.
He seems to be saying that subversion has had it’s day:

“And if you think about it, all the things that were once seen as subversive and dangerous like tattoos and piercings and drugs and interracial sex, all these things, they sort of crop up on X Factor now.”

He’s very cynical about there being any true subversion any more.  But then in an earlier speech he describes his own pots as subversive…..and they certainly make you think and challenge your beliefs!

Grayson Perry: The Existential Void



We talked about a lot in our tutorial this week, I have 3 pages of notes to follow up!
Empirical research – how do artists do something considered so scientific?   As I have a science background I would gravitate to empirical research, but in art I have yet to find an application in my own research.  I find it difficult to categorise the research I do into types.
In his book “Art as research” Shaun McNiff considers that in science there is introspection as part of the empirical approach and in art research there is empirical experimentation as well as reflection.

“Art based research comprises both introspective and empirical inquiry.  Art is by definition a combination of the two.  The artist researcher initiates a series of artistic expressions as a means of personal introspection and the process of inquiry generates empirical data which are systematically reviewed.”


To subvert is to overthrow the accepted norm.  Does that make any scientific discovery subversion?  I feel that the definition of subversion is more geared towards political / social acts rather than new discoveries or else all scientists are subvertists?  When searching online the word has an underground quality that I am not sure most scientists have.   Of course there will be cross overs.
Propaganda and advertising are designed to subvert but are usually done from the position of power (the government / political party / large organisation) so perhaps rather than subversion being underground it is more underhand…..
We talked briefly about semiotics (the study of meaning-making, the study of sign processes and meaningful communication) which I had never heard about before – having done a little reading now (OK, Wikipedia!) it is a whole new world which includes semantics, syntactics, pragmatics and seimology!   I think it will take me a bit longer to take all that in.
Does Twitter subvert journalism by making us all journalists on the ground?  The other day I was tweeting pictures from a pro-refugee rally in Portsmouth and a news channel retweeted me.   Was I being subversive?!
Why does being subversive feel like being a little bit naughty as a child?  I guess we all like to kick back at those that rule us.

My practice

I’ve added some pictures on Flikr of the Gosport Ferry and have started to have some ideas about how these might be shown as a whole.
I did a big acrylic painting this week, not sure it’s finished yet, but I like where it’s going.
This weeks featured image is a reflective shot under Forton Bridge, Gosport – a liminal space. (Actually a liminal space twice, it’s low tide too).