Artist Statement

After some too-ing and fro-ing with my tutor I have devised the following as an artist’s statement. I had initially been concerned about what was required. I had understood that this statement was to be developed as a generic artist’s statement describing what it was that I was intending through any practice that I might develop; a concept I felt I had no chance of achieving as I had/still have, to a slightly lesser extent, a strong idea of where I, as an artist, might travel to, let alone end up. After discussions with my tutor it was agreed that I would attempt a statement regarding the work for Assignment 2 only. Not only did this make much more sense, but it enabled me, or perhaps just as accurately, open a discourse with myself, to question what my original intent was with the assignment and what happened to that intent along the way.

I think it is safe to say that my mood going into the assignment wasn’t very positive after assignment 1; which, whilst the report for the work wasn’t that bad and some might have said good, didn’t go near what I had as an original intent or purpose. A change of tutor has helped enormously and I am starting to feel that this work might have some value, certainly for me, as I develop from what I was, into something that at present I have only a notion of. All the work that I will do on this course has to have a value to me – I see no purpose at all in developing work to fulfil the remit of an exercise or assignment in order to just tick boxes. Getting it done, getting out and moving on is a mantra that I can find no worth in at all. The more I work in an area that I find motivation in, for whatever reason, the more I will not want to patronise, nor skim the surface of the subject. I am fully aware that my scant knowledge in these areas might appear to some as lightweight, not to say flimsy; but it will be an honest account of where I can get to. To do less would not only do a disservice to the subject, but also perhaps give a lie to the intent of the work; and I will not do so.

So here it is my first ever Artist Statement:

I wanted to investigate the area of identity with a group of users in a dementia support group. How, in an age where patient confidentiality is at a premium, to present a piece of work that opens areas of discussion regarding the condition of dementia and how that condition reflects on the area of identity. Without crossing the boundary of personal revelation, I set about to work collaboratively with the ‘users’ of the ‘Echoes Group’ to produce a number of ‘portraits’ using memorabilia supplied and edited by those ‘users’. The concept was to scan (two dimensional objects) or photograph (three dimensional objects) some of their personal posessions, and then have the users place the images in a narrative sequence as a photomontage, which I would then compile into a composite image. The result would then be discussed in a group session where the ‘users’ would be invited to talk about their own ‘portrait’ and interrogate other ‘users’ ‘portraits’. It is hoped that the A2 prints will be hung in the permanent space at the Warneford Hospital.

I will write the assignment up now as the work is almost complete. I’ve only shown one piece of work on this blog, as due to patient confidentiality issues I am very limited as to what I can share; however this has been an extremely valuable exercise to work through and the results of which are still echoing as I start to think about the next assignment.

Here is a link to UCA’s helpful advice on creating an artist’s statement 

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5 thoughts on “Artist Statement

  1. Hi John. I think the statement works pretty well. I was wondering if you might be able to add a little more contextual information. For example making a portrait from traces of someone’s past is a very interesting idea. It refers to the association between photography and memory, time and ultimately death. Barthes and I am sure others have much to say on this. Also is it possible to refer to work by other photographers in this genre. This is off the top of my head. Not having seen the brief could mean that my comments are off subject. Personally I think thus is a very interesting piece of work. You should not be discouraged.

    • Keith, your comments are, as ever, very encouraging – so thanks for that. Whilst I was discouraged I now view the work with some trepidation – and that’s a good feeling! I have re-engaged with this course (though my work with the Echoes Group has continued) and I am looking forward to the work.
      Yes, I agree about Barthes, sitting there on my (our) shoulders looking over the work – strange isn’t it! But I will start the assignment write up and pull in the work that has influenced me, other photographers/artists etc. My first attempt at an artist statement was slightly unnerving, as it is a bit like baring one’s soul – an exposure.
      I am greatly encouraged by your thoughts (which I will contemplate) and encouragement; thanks again.

  2. I think this is a very valid statement, based on what I’e read and talked with you about. This has been a delicate and sensitive process you’ve engaged in and I think you’ve been true to your concept.

  3. I think it is a good statement, and also does seem to me to reflect the work and what you have achieved. I also think that what you are doing is really interesting and look forward to seeing the next stage.

    I understand Keith’s point and agree to an extent, in that it might be helpful at some point to revisit this and reflect on influences. Partly because of my recent experience visiting Free range I’d caution against mentioning Barthes or Baudrillard in your statement as to me it says ‘student’ rather than artist (in one college space, three students in a row mentioned Baudrillard in their statements, leading me to conclude that they had a tutor who had made a big impression on them and that their work was still a bit underdeveloped). I guess it all depends on how you do it, and some people clearly used theory as a stepping off point for very thoughtful work, but I find your straightforward explanation adds something helpful to the work as it stands.

  4. Thanks Catherine and Eileen, I’m grateful for your comments. The statement had a few iterations before settling as is, and of course it could be re-drafted in many different ways. It will be worth returning to once I have completed the assignment write-up and submitted the work to my tutor. I suspect there will be some editing to be done before the work makes assessment (should I get that far!).

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