Tag Archives: Crawford

Change again…

What I’ve noticed, my dear readers is that you keep dropping in this very ungrateful space looking perhaps for fresh ‘art news’ to stimulate you – and what you can find are weeks old reflections taken from dead guys and somehow outdated artistic expressions…

Well – it’s time to cease to mock the expression ‘news’… This art blog is what it has always been – an art blog… not a journal, not a private newspaper, not an ambitious magazine – just a blog. But it’s been over two years adventure and it will always stay as a formative part of my artistic journey. A student’s blog – it’s on its threshold of a transformation – it needs to move on, just like its author is bound to do…

What the change exactly is and how it manifest I cannot pin down yet – but I hope to discover soon… At this stage I would like to direct your attention beyond this space; and this is what the virtual universe becomes – never a place of any destination but a clue, a code, a link to something beyond itself… A never ending story of some sort…

First of all – notice my Twitter’s updates on the right hand side – this micro-blogging service gives that mind-teasing potential to ‘read’ people’s thoughts the moment they are being thought. Furthermore – I enjoy my Facebook activities, which can be compared to meeting like-minded people in clubs and cafe shops once such places existed…

At the continental Europe there was a huge tradition, especially before the wars – to gather in places in order to cultivate the intellectual and cultural exchange. Poets would have their own ‘bunkers’, artists they own, ‘intelligentsia’ will join them or flock in their own ivory towers…There was where the greatest thought and works would spark – from tobacco’s smoke and cutting wit of those nonchalant, yet deeply world-conscious people… The violence and a roller coaster of the cultural change would shatter that world to pieces – if it exists in any substitute form – its thanks to the Net…it’s here where we still can communicate in a way – we choose to believe – is comparatively free and uncorrupted. It’s our 21st century’s blacksmith’s workshop of ideologies and projects; our international, multicultural pot we boil our humanity to soften it, to make it edible…

The virtual status of all that fascinating phenomena seems not to bother us, at least not as much as it should have… It’s like telling a 6-years old mesmerized by the “Star Wars” – ‘It’s just a fairytale, it does not exist’ – He would never get the idea of ‘not existing’ if it’s accessible to his sensory system… Very much the same with the world created in an artwork – a piece of music, a painting, a poem – it’s the matter of believing -and once there is the belief – the Bosch’s creatures exist, Lord Jim might have been closer to meet in flesh than we’d ever thought… And consequently – my fragmented, in moments confused, sometimes exciting online exchange of ideas and feelings DOES matter, because it IS real in some sense – it’s a part of my contemporary identity and I cannot be fully divorced from it not losing my integrity to a certain extent…

Anyway – getting to the point: I cannot support “Art News” any more in the title of this blog – let it stay as it originally was – “Terra Incognita” – the unknown land of human creativity – not a hair width more ‘known’ to me after over three years of studies… Below are the links to other spaces (‘clubs’) you can find me. Thanks for your patience for months to stay with me here, to read and reflect on my shared world…

‘The Crawford ARTicle’ – Crawford’s students first platform of an exchange and share

‘Twitter’ – Katarzyna on Twitter

“Crawford College” – Facebook’s official site

Crawford College of Art Graduates’ Exhibition (2008)

There is one special week in the whole year, when my college (Crawford College of Art, Cork, Ireland – see photo below) changes beyond any recognition. Cluttered studios are being cleared, stained in all colours of a rainbow (and mud) walls are painted in a laboratory white, all sorts of artistic experiments don’t obstruct corridors any more, the body of students almost disappears to be substituted by the body of their work. This charming, quiet and intimate in a sense environment, where everyone knows everyone, becomes a public venue – the yearly exhibition of the final, 4th (BA Hons) year is being to be open. A crowd of social activists, artists, dealers, ‘civil’ art lovers, common ‘bargain hunters’, ex-students gallops through the newly arranged galleries looking for an ‘Enlightenment’ – this one or these few ‘promising’ enough to have their names remembered and their work bought.

It could be also a good researching ground for a culture/society/ideas theoretician, since these still sincere and young emerging artists echo truthfully whatever bothers, confuses or simply – turns them on in the world around.

I made my own little analysis of themes/thesis popular among my peers/older colleagues:

* Identity : loss, exploring – national (being a foreigner, being Irish), cultural (through meeting with Japan, Hindu and other civilizations), sexual (e.g. exploring ‘gay’ identity, sexual abuse, romantic relationship), personal (what is artist?, who am I specifically?) – this appears to be the most popular and art-provoking concept

* Nature – landscape (seen in more/less traditional way) – often seascapes, animals (relationship with them, appearance), cruelty (‘stronger eats weaker’ law)

* Existential/Modern world – journey, void, chaos/tension, existential/emotional pain, communication (disturbance, loss), city (-scapes, dangers), technology, plastic world (pop-culture), kitsch

* Memory – childhood, meaning of the past

Above that, there appears to be a wild and creative enjoyment of all available media – from very traditional oil/canvas and sculpture, going through acrylic/watercolour and mixed-media, then some sorts of an assemble and installation to the comparatively ‘young’ means of video art and multi-media projects. If there is a place, today, where pluralism, tolerance and freedom exist and co-exist with some interesting results – it happens within and thanks to the contemporary art. It’s here, where one can reach beyond ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘conservative’ or ‘modern’, ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’ – what really matters is the message and how successful, mature and self-aware an artist is in getting it through.

Above: Crawford students, their friends/relatives and teachers giving an applause to an awarded colleague

Above: Visitor of the Crawford Art Graduates’ Exhibition

Diary – Part 1


Half – term of the first term in the second year of my study has just approached. I found myself enjoying my time in the college much more than I could initially imagine, but this wouldn’t be possible without great people I met.

The main good points of study art in an institution (especially when you’re not quite independent financially) is that you’re being supplied with a free studio space, free tuitions (these depend on the country and a type of the institution), free workshops and an easy access to a very useful equipment (cameras, projectors, books etc.). There is obviously another issue too complex to be converted economically – you’re surrounded by passionates, both students and “masters”, who are there at a length of your arm each time you need a talk, an advise or a feedback.

And there are arguments contra, which tend to be equally powerful. Unless you consider yourself a psychologically strong person, comparatively sure why are you doing, what you’re doing, also- unless you’re able to reflect critically on your environment I wouldn’t recommend studying fine art in a structured manner. First of all, you have to function within an educational programme designed for majority – 18-years old students (with all the respect to 18-years old-s) and to fight its great potential to infantilise anyone who doesn’t need to be watched and disciplined to develop properly. On the other hand it imposes a system of dividing your time (terms, time spent in studio, at lectures etc.) and marking, which can be pretty distracting and/or confusing (because we’re all humans, we want to per for 80%, not for 40% – but does 80% make you a better artist?).There are tutorials and seminars where you’re expected to more or less make your teachers satisified by a clear, eloquent and ambitious presentation of your progress and answering all the questions, no matter how pointless they may sound (with the respect to all teachers of art). If you’re a young, inexperienced and untrained in a logical argumentation or if you’re an introvert feeling extremely uncomfortably in being publicly exposed in that particular way, you’re in a vulnerable situation.

I remember a very quiet girl who’s no longer with us, most probably because the system I study in promotes, first of all, outgoing and intellectually able individuals which doesn’t necessary translate into promoting those truly talented and aware of what that’s really mean to study art.

So – what that’s actually mean “to study art”? I’m asking myself and all of you there, studying art each day in institutions, on your own, purely for hobby, just for fun?

I still smile recalling my chat with one of my teachers:

– What’s the meaning you want to convey? – he asked looking at my set of steel tubes and glass structures.

– I’m not sure if I there’s any meaning I would like to convey.

– But there must be something you want to communicate.

– Do I have to communicate anything?

– You have to make your viewers aware of your intentions. You have to be responsible for the message you convey.

– What do you mean “to be responsible”?- I mean – he said loosing his patience a little bit – that your art always tells a story. And that you are a teller. Do you know your story well enough?

– But, if I mean my painting to communicate only itself – a painting for painting…Do I have to generate other meanings just for the sake of my viewers?

– An art for art’s sake – there’s no such thing. Art happens between you, your work and those who react to it…Just look – I see your set as a cold, austere and beautiful place. If I call dozens of people I’m sure their reaction will be identical.

– But how do you know that I consciously inscribed that meaning…I just found the pieces and I liked them so I put them together…- I answered quite frankly.

We continued in that fashion until he resigned and promised to return once I will be ready “to communicate” something.

I recall that conversation simply because it made me think a lot about my study and art in general. Especially, the imperative of “communicating something” and “being responsible” for the meaning(s) my art could generate in people.I used to work quite intuitively and even automatically, just trusting my creative potential and not caring about the outcome until the very end.

So, does “studying art” mean learning communication and social skills which would transform me into an expert in “meanings”and reception of my work? Or – is it simply a training in techniques and strategies for producing “readable” art-products? You may say – studying art can be partially both… But what beyond this? Or – are those aspects really that important?

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