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REFLECTIVE LOG SHEET NAME: Andrew Bracey

Tutorial / Gallery Visit / Visiting Artist / Book / Date/Location


studio

‘Practice and Research in Action’ 25th-30th June 21st and 25th-30th June 2018
2018 at the Sidney Nolan Trust, Powys

Key points • I got accepted onto a practice based PhD residency at the Sidney Nolan Trust.
• Key thing is alert and awake not addressed below are:
• that although the PhD is a primarily singular activity, things such as this week
and a notion of collaboration being extended to a dialogical, environmental,
and sharing activity is something to hold onto.
• The notion of going away to concentrate was incredibly important, I’ve got so
much done during this week that day-to-day life does just not allow.
• Are surprised to hear a few people say how confident I was, I certainly don’t
feel it, but surprisingly I feel more confident after this week both in myself and
for my research and actually how far along I am than I have before now.

Further •
research

Reflections • Written in the week prior to the residency


I am so looking forward to the residency. A week focused on the PhD research away
from all other distractions is an unthinkable luxury for my present life of being a
lecturer and running an MA, being a parent, having two other substantial ongoing
research projects and doing the PhD. A week of making, reading, writing and
discussion is a rich stew of possibilities.
I started my practice-based PhD in December 2017. The benefits of the residency to
the early stages of my research will be multitude, but the most significant benefit is to
be part of a community of practice-based researchers in an environment focused on
practice. At present I am feeling somewhat isolated in this regard in my institution and
am wary over how more traditional routes of research could come to dominate my
PhD. I am determined for this not to happen. I believe the residency could be
transformative in building my confidence in this regard, through an atmosphere of
(different stages of) PhD students sharing our experiences. I am excited about the
environment of skill sharing and discussion.
I am naturally a curious person and I believe I can impact positively on the group
experience. I run the MA Fine Art at Lincoln based on the principles of discourse, this
is something I believe is so important to being an artistic researcher and have
presented my research as practice at conferences including Paradox and Society of
Artistic Research and made/exhibited art for many years. I am looking forward to
being part of and contributing to the rich environment of constructive debate and
activity around practice-based research through my experience and approach. From
reading the previous participant’s reports online, I am most excited about the
unexpected and the unknowable things that I am confident
will occur during the week.

• Monday 25th June


Essentially this was an acclimatising day with meeting
everyone, having a tour of the Rodd and 2 walks into the
woods. I also set up the studio in the barn beside a tractor,
which feels like I am back in the Westcountry! I already feel
relaxed here, am in good company and feel I will be having a
very productive week.

This is the view that Sidney Nolan would come and share his coffee with each
morning:

• Tuesday 26th June

Today was a really productive day, I have been painting most of the day, in a world of
my own in many ways lost in thought and painting away, I managed to do three
double spreads of the art treasures of the world and had good conversations especially
with Lesley over practice based PhD routes. It is a real luxury being out of focus on
the painting uninterrupted by work, family, social media, pressures of writing or
reading and focus on the practice part of the PhD. I consciously tried to do something
else with the ones I have done today: with Cezanne I painted using gold and white
and then left the Harlequin motif of one of the figures creating a slightly disjointed
green which plays interestingly across the gold and reflections on it. It might be worth
trying pattern notions with other reconfigure paintings.

On another sheet with the Jean Arp and a Henry


Moore figures I picked out the three primary
colours used by Mondrian in his composition of
1929 (excluding the white and black) to make up
the cocoon for the figures of Arp and Moore; this
works better than I thought it did when I was
doing it, which is interesting as normally I have a
hunch.

There was talk in the evening around the


campfire of what we have done and plans
focusing on collaboration, chartered they were

something I felt consciously absent from


being involved with. Tomorrow and taking
part in a creative writing workshop
and a hopeful linkup of possibilities
with Lesley and Isabel, relating to Isabel’s
research involving painting becoming a
score for music and from what I can
understand a vice versa of the music
indicating what the painter should do.
Besides interesting to me makes me think of the work I’ve already been doing with
Annie Morrad and Stewart Collinson and the possibilities that this entails the
connections between painting and mark making and looking, and music and sound.

• Wednesday 27th June

Day three in the big brother camp and my first


visit to the blog room. After breakfast there was a
writing workshop led by Sara Davies and Ann
Caldwell, which I found incredibly helpful
reminded me again of the importance of the
keeping alive the spirit of free writing for the PhD;
and just to keep getting on with it without over-
thinking or over-procrastinating, deny the fear of
the blank page! To start we had a phrase given to
us by Ann to free right for 7 minutes (from one of
Ann’s poems – “my homeland is a faint smudge of charcoal”) which we then selected
a phrase from to pass on to the person next to each of us. I received Gemma Meek’s -
“held in the flesh”, which was wonderfully evocative. We had ten minutes to free
write something based on this, I think it helped me work through latent ideas, half-
thought through in the studio.

Held in the flesh

The cocoons cover the figure, the triangles hover over, or cover, the flesh, their hair,
the eyes, the clothes, the toenails, the fingernails, the pubic hair and so on. They
hover, not pierce, or rupture, or subsume, or penetrate, or so on.

My marks can go away; a conservative can remove them or another reproduction can
be sought out or, indeed, the original can be seen. The ’flesh ’of the original painting
is still there, held in form, in place, in mind, and photographs, in the gallery, in the
flesh.

We say we see an original painting in the flesh, we perhaps evoke something akin to
the painter’s spirit or intent held manifest in the flesh of their work, their painting. So,
what does it mean to see one of my ReconFigure Paintings in the flesh? Do we see my
marks, in the flesh? Do we see the reproduction of the original painting this time in the
flesh? Does the reconfigured painting evoke and conjure the flesh of the original
painting despite the reproduction? Or is it my painted flesh incarnate in the pages of
the book, the postcard, the poster, the print, the lithograph, the digital; to be
transformed through the brush, hog or synthetic hair, or, indeed, a digital
photoshopped brush, all moving towards, and at, a holistic flesh.

Or is the flesh built upon the embalmed (or rotting?) flesh of the paintings that have
gone before me; held in time, waiting for the mark, my mark? Why do I work on top
of the flesh of other painters? Am I engaged in the necrophiliac act of painting with
the supposed the death of painting, or am I grasping to breathe life into its near
corpse? I do not believe this and I am tired of this never-ending, drawn out and
endlessly, repeated painted death.

I metaphorically hold the paintings I admire, detest, am indifferent to and want to


learn from is something akin to the touch of the flesh of the newly born child sleeping
on my chest; for my own brush to touch the brush of the painting is the charge felt
from the skin-to-skin contact of that newly born on the flesh of my torso, to hold
something’s flesh is to feel a charge, whether the flesh is human or an encounter with
the painting, in the flesh.

We then moved into the Sidney Nolan Trust gallery at the Rodd where we are asked
to sit in front of a painting that grabbed us and respond quickly to a series of
provocations by Ann; namely:
what are the first two things I notice?
Can I write about a colour or shape?
Write two lines that start with always.
What would the person painting say?
Move to another position and then write five lines from this new angle.
(I went and lay underneath the painting – Untitled 1986

Once we had done this we were then asked to use what we had written to write a
rejigged poem, again this is what I came up with:

Spending time with Untitled

Always look for the eyes, first.


A face that comes out and recedes,
Clarity shifts.
The marks become smoke from a multitude of flares.
Bruised brown’s, piercing pink and the faint glow of orange.

Always allow the eye to wander.


The underneath, the staples of what is most clear and in focus,
The usually unseen.
Piercing orange, bruised brown’s, piercing pink and the faint glow of orange.

The eyes are joined,


A line, not eyes.
“I am not here, now. I am not flesh and bone.
I am here now, return to a place from
which I came.”
Failed purple and blue smudges, piercing
orange, bruised brown’s, piercing pink
and the faint glow of orange.

I found this a really useful exercise to do,


it was done quickly and I’ve only made a
minor adjustment to of repeating the
colours at the end of the sentences so they
build up like the way Nolan built up his
own marks and colours on the paintings,
quickly made in the building where I saw them most likely and probably painted
quickly like my poem after, in Nolan’s case morning of reading Rimbaud. I also
looked through a book of his called Paradise Garden, where Nolan’s poems were
twinned with a painting or print of his on either side of a double-sided spread, with a
drawing reproduced on tracing paper that could cover the painting/print with a hybrid
composition or directly illustrate the poem. This is rather neat and something that
might be worth exploring, it made me think of the Nottingham Castle film made about
me where the original painting faded in over my ReconFigure paintings, this could
also work in book form in the tracing paper way?

Later in the day I worked with Isabel Benito to come up with how my painting process
could be turned into a score for music. We talked through the way that I approach
painting the ReconFigure Paintings and form this developed 2 distinct sections,
comprised of two elements each; on one side the missing of painting and triangles
leading to a improvised melodic flow switching to the last three notes repeated in
different ways when I paint the triangles and on the other side a more freeform (non-
musician) side when I wash the brush and wipe it on the cloth. SO on one side is the
addition of painting and on the other is the removal. I have decided to use the image
of a Sidney Nolan painting on a postcard for this and hopefully this should all lead to
something exciting and new later on.
Tonight Isabel and I tested out our ideas for the score derived from my paintings with
the rest of the group from the residency. I cannot believe how much I got from it. We
derived a simple structure, see image. All We split the group into pitch and non-pitch
instruments with the mixing of the colours allowing a free-form flow of the pitch
instruments, breaking into the use of just three notes when I painted the triangles over
the Sidney Nolan Postcard. The non-pitch instruments but then make one loud sound
when I wash the brush and a cacophony of sound when I wiped the brush on the
cloth. what emerged from mainly amateur performers was very enjoyable and
surprising. It felt to me like there was structure, playfulness, attention between
structure and free-form, discord and harmony and so on. It also made me conscious of
the painting.
Firstly for this I painted very quickly and the decision-making was on the calf. I also
became conscious of the musical performance and became the conductor, very much
directing them and be conscious of this direction, and enjoying this process also. It
went beyond the visual. In fact the resulting painting mattered little, although
surprisingly I like the results, complete with fingerprints mistakes and washed out
colour. Most tellingly it made me realise how many decisions I am actually making in
a measured and controlled manner when I’m constructing the pieces. For example the
colours I mixing which I have felt has been randomly generated after doing this
exercise I realise is actually finely tuned and controlled. I’m fully aware, in fact, of
what tone and colour I will be making and for where, when I’m normally painting.
For doing this I felt that it was far more intuitive than actually is. This was made
consciously so, because I felt far more out-of-control and making decisions in a more
random and unconscious manner than I would normally, I felt rushed, and the
surprising thing is it does not matter so much, at least as much as I thought it would.
I would like to do more of this, there is something in the parasitical clearly here. There
is the use of the existing painting by myself, but then in turn the use of others, in this
case and as in the case with Stuart and Annie, that music is being generated by, and
with, the result of my painting. Whether this is symbiotic, mutualist, parasitical, or
something else is up for grabs, but there is something in this idea of expanding this
solo activity of the painter into an effect with an audience, an audience is actively
involved in the process of creating something derived from my activity, which in turn
is derived from the activity, or rather the result of the activity of the original
artists/painters. I would like to try this out for mansions of the future and possibly to
work with Isabel again for this. All in all a good day.

In regard to • Thursday 28th June INSERT IMAGES


Today I painted some more ReconFigure Paintings, I am becoming more conscious
my research
of the influence of Nolan’s colours on the works I am making, which is interesting
as it has hovered between a conscious and unconscious process or mindset. I am
interested in how this is acting as a three-way level of influence – original painter,
me and Nolan, and I wondered if this could be consciously applied elsewhere, as I
did this week with Mondrian also?
I also spent a lot of time in the barn with the Spray paintings I saw at Ikon gallery, in
Sidney Nolan’s small studio and with watching and making notes of a film about
Nolan. I wrote down phrases that jumped out at me and I then use, edited and acted
on these to create a poem or similar piece of writing, akin to the writing workshop
with Anne and Sara the other day. In this case I used the words of Nolan and the
narrator to craft by own piece of creative writing, in a different order and with bit
chopped about so they become something else, akin to the use of an artists work to
make my work (symbiotically), this uses the words of the other artist to create a new
piece of (symbiotic? writing

Images of the mind.

The paintings are silently living their life here.


Juggling different time periods, simultaneously.
Paintings are like a clock, you see.
Images of the mind.

For this restless painter, time


Works to an
eccentric,
Beat.

I spent a sleepless night last night. Images of the mind.


Juggles elements of the,
past, present and,
future.
A desire to have a cushion of some neutral ground.

So, I find myself saying things I had


no
idea
I
would
say.

It is like being a boxer,


They can punish you, but
you
can keep coming
back
again,
but I suppose the idea is you try and outlive the
punishment.

Images of the mind.

Overnight the tithe barn becomes

A painting studio again.

In a constantly changing
retrospective. A kind of heat haze.

The residual part of my memory.


Light is milky white
Linear impressions and abstracts.

Images of the mind.

By Andrew Bracey, Written during a residency at the Sidney Nolan Trust 28-29 June
2018 using the words from the documentary ‘Such is Life’ about Sidney Nolan on the
occasion of the 70th birthday.

See what I wrote initially from the film in the notes section below.

• Friday 29th June

The day of the final presentation of the residency to the public, which I will skip to
now. I decided to present the paintings I had done flat instead of on the wall, to reflect
the making process and of the residency, and to refer back to the book part over the
paintings, it also felt appropriate to not pretend that it was a gallery or an ‘exhibition’,
as it did not show finished thoughts or products, though in my own way, the paintings
are what I would normally do.
A key thing learnt in terms of this body of work during my time at the Sidney Nolan
trust is this the idea of bringing in other elements to the colour choosing, for example
the use of Mondrian’s three primary colours in one work and the influence of Sydney
Nolan’s palette as the week went on. There might be something in this idea of the
paintings being seen flat, I’m really not sure about this at this stage I would have to
think of the archival connotations.
One of the other participants, Jackie Haynes who is researching Schwitters at the
University of Cumbria, made a crazy but inspiring mind map during her time here.
She made cats cradle out of elastic in the space behind the barn and covered it in
different coloured vinyl, she then associated each holding points with a key word or
concept of a research and then proceeded to cut each time she said the words aloud
of this is a performance. The section pains into a untethered hole by the time she had
brought it all together almost as if all the different constituents held in place intention
but spread out over the cats cradle all came together in a mass in the whole. This is
something I would like to do as well, it did make crazy kind of sense.

I would
like finally
to talk a
little more
about the
collaboration with Isabel Benito Gutiérrez, which we patrolled properly on the Friday
night. I’m hoping to get the video footage from her that this is something I would like
to continue doing in the future and must make sure I hook up with her again. This
performance was much tighter than the one we did on Wednesday night. I was far less
conscious of for bigger routine and more naturally painted the way I did. This created
more variety in the passages between the four different sections that produced the
different types of music making a more interesting visual and audio experience. It was
also much tighter with only three pitch instruments and free non-pitch instruments
and we decided to introduce the fact that they would not all have to play at once
creating a minimal and then cacophony of sounds. Which was much more interesting
altogether. One thing to point out with this is the addition of other parasitical and
symbiotic layers - there is the original painting, in this case Sidney Nolan, then the
contribution of my painted marks then influencing the sounds of the musicians.

On the night of the mini exhibition Anthony, the director of the Sydney Nolan trust,
came up to me to talk of how Sydney known would have loved my work, this was
immensely gratifying and humbling. He talked of how Sydney Nolan made work with
triangles another shapes in a similar manner that the early part of his career and of
how you would have loved how I had used his work as a springboard for my own
work and of the incorporation of the music, something that Sidney Nolan did not
directly do in his own work butts music was a huge influence on the way they
painted-he usually listen to Beethoven when painting and put on concerts of new and
is assisting older classical music.

Notes

Sidney NOLAN
‘Such is Life’
Extracted quotes from the film
for this restless painter, time works to an eccentric beat.
I believe reverently that it is through abstract means that you can convey the most intense
emotion.
It is like being a boxer, they can punish you, but you can keep coming back again, but I
suppose the idea is you try and outlive the punishment.
I have no more idea of the answers than the interviewer has. They usually come to me as a
surprise, so I find myself saying things I had no idea I would say, but nonetheless I quite
enjoy having forced out of me some unexpected thing.
The Burren light is milky white light is most enticing and almost impossible to do I think
even for an Irish painter.
He always works to music, preferably Beethoven.
Images of the mind.
The concert hall with excellent acoustics, doubles the gallery and is a place for Nolan to
work on as larger paintings.
Overnight the tithe barn becomes a painting studio again.
This tells you very quickly when you are wrong, which is a painter needs to know more than
when he is right.
In a constantly changing retrospective.
A kind of heat haze.
I spent a sleepless night last night.
The paintings are silently living their life here.
Paintings are like a clock you see.
I went from Chinese mountains which are kind of abstract in a way, onto abstract paintings.
A part of the world that has long been written about, but rarely painted.
A double exposure, you are being exposed and your children are. They are young children
you see and you may overhear someone saying your child has a snotty nose.
The years over 70 are, for a painter, , very interesting.
I don't think you should gamble with your life until you are 70, after that…
He juggles elements of the past, present and future. It is his form of history painting
a desire to have a cushion of some neutral ground.
Juggling different time periods simultaneously.
After the passage of time, 45 years, they are kind of all right.
His painter’s eye sees the landscape as interchangeable.
The residual part of my memory.
Linear impressions and abstracts.

Isabel Benito Gutiérrez


M usic as a collaborative discipline: issues to address, exchange of elem ents
and the role of the contributors.
Keywords: Multidisciplinary, Audiovisual, Painting music, Colours and sounds,
Collaboration, Galleries as concert halls
The main focus of my research is the use of music as an interdisciplinary art form
collaborating with professionals from different artistic disciplines particularly painters. Also, I
am composing pieces where the pictorial process is included in the concert performances.
In the past, other composers have used existing paintings as a source of inspiration but,
what makes my research and work innovative is that it is not just the idea of observing a
piece of art as a musical inspiration but considering the artist/painter as one more
performer who follows some directions. In that way, the visual art affects the balance of the
piece, meets compositional techniques and is coordinated and structured not only in the
space but also in time as music is. At the same time, painting and arts have already been
used as part of concert performance but, these representations were following existing
compositions in a free and improvisational way. Nevertheless, my research is also focused
in the creation of codes and indications for the artist to follow in the music/visual score. In
that way, the musical piece cannot be performed without the visual art representation as
the pieces are fully audiovisual.

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