Art & Design Magazine

Head Art

By Waynechisnall @WayneChisnall

Have you ever said something just to be provocative or to play devil's advocate, and some time later questioned whether there might actually be something in what you said?

Head Art

I remember, many years ago, as part of a group of prospective art students, going to check out universities. At one of the art colleges that we visited, when being interviewed by one of the fine art lecturers, I found myself feeling particularly bloody minded. This was probably because I wasn't that impressed with the attractiveness of the students that I'd seen at the college, and therefore decided that it wasn't the educational establishment I wanted to attend - I was, after all, a very young man at the time, and definitely somewhat superficial. Anyway - during the conversation with the lecturer we somehow got to point where I stated that as long as I made the work in my head it didn't actually need to physically exist (basically, I was being a dick). He then asked me how the work could be assessed if no-one else could see it. To which I replied (still being a dick) that it didn't matter if no-one else could experience it, I made (or didn't make) my art for my own gratification. 

The basic upshot of the conversation was that he offered me a place on the course, there and then. I turned it down (dick!).

Head Art

Montage of pages from sketchbooks by the artist, Wayne Chisnall

But moving away from the initial youthful bloody mindedness of my side of that conversation, I've recently come to think that there might actually be a grain of truth in there somewhere. I long ago came to terms with the fact that I'll never be able to physically create all the pieces of artwork that I have ideas for - partly because of time constraints, partly because of material or cost constraints, and partly because every piece of art that I make generally triggers ideas for multiple/different version of itself. Because of this I always keep sketchbooks close to hand so that I can jot down ideas - usually a mixture of thumbnail sketches and spidery handwriting, detailing the materials to be used in the sculpture's construction, along with background notes on the thoughts behind the ideas.

And even though I know that the vast majority of these ideas will never see the light of day, as physical objects, I always contented myself with the thought that as long as they existed in a sketchbook, they do existed in some form. But lately I've started to enjoy constructing and developing artwork ideas just in my head (over extended periods of time), and not working them out in sketchbooks first. I know that this can be a risky practice as there have been many times that I've had an idea for a piece but failed to 'realise' it in a sketchbook, and then forgotten it completely. Yet I'm now starting the come round to the idea of this not necessarily being a bad thing. Now that we live in a social media age, where every last thought is shared and all our online activities are algorithmically monitored, maybe some things should remain ephemeral and enjoyed on a purely personal level.

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