More talking…


Not strictly talking about a specific book, but I will be in conversation with graphic designer Stuart Bailey this coming Tuesday, 20 June, about how we both approach our research around art books, and publishing about and in relation to art. Stuart finished his PhD at Reading in 2014, embracing Umberto Eco’s notion of the Open Work, something I am also interested in.

The talk will take place at Birkbeck, in a series of Corkscrew events that focus on practice-based or practice-related research. For more information click here.

Oslo workshop

Having spent two days in the very ‘koselig’ bookshop space of Oslo’s Cappelens Forslag (and its very intimate back room-cum kitchen), with a morning’s detour to the nearby Kulturhuset, my head is full of thinking about writing, editing and publishing texts and books about art. The discussions were generous and challenging, the exercises proposed by everyone thought-provoking, and the amount of reading we all managed to get in beforehand and during was enriching.

I’ve more or less invited myself back to any appropriate future workshop to be organised by Anne Szefer-Karlsen and the MA in Curatorial Practice (based in Bergen) who invited me in the first place. The range of students is diverse – all of them working in some curatorial capacity across a variety of arts organisations in Norway, or beyond. And despite departing from London sans cash and cards, the kindness of strangers, and a loan from Anne got me through and back home.



For more on Cappelens Forslag’s publishing project, the conversational encyclopaedia, see this article that popped up in the Guardian two days after the workshop.

workshop Oslo

On 31 January and 1 February I will be contributing to and participating in a workshop about writing, editing and publishing in relation to art. The workshop is organised by Anne Szefer-Karlsen, with whom I worked on the Dublett series, which combined the format of the artist’s book with that of more traditional contextualising essays on the artist’s work. Anne is currently course director of the MA in Curatorial Practice, now part of the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design at the University of Bergen. Other contributors to the workshop are Federica Bueti, Karen Grønneberg and Rachel O’Reilly. We’ve all suggested different texts to read beforehand, and will no doubt get writing in the course of the two days. I’ve borrowed a detail of a drawing by Pablo Helguera as a provocation.


a p s and whiteblack00

I got to know Alexandra P. Spaulding, or Alex, when she did her MFA at the Glasgow School of Art, where I taught as a visiting lecturer (2003-2015), where she then also continued with her practice-based PhD. We had become close friends in her final year at the MFA, and our conversations around her work and her research naturally flowed into one of collaboration.

Working with immersive installations in which she explored the notion of the ineffable, sound was a key elements of Alex’s enquiry. Although she had worked with sound before, her composition skills evolved in the course of the series, which in the end would comprise 6 vinyl records, for which she adopted the acronym ‘a p s’ as her artist’s name.

My contribution, labelled as that of ‘producer’ (highlighting the different conventions in sound and music relative to book publishing), focused on considering the structure and flow within each individual track, and the overall structure and rhythm of each individual album. Alex often conceived the tracks in a linear fashion, and would initially present them in order of their appearance. From my perspective the albums also needed to make sense for the listener, where the construction of the narrative arc sometimes felt more productive with an entirely different order.

The records were released on a label set up especially for them, Whiteblack00, between 2008 and 2011. Alex’s website can be found here. The label is more or less dormant, although Alex has released new material since finishing the PhD for work in various exhibitions she has had.

The records are, in order of release date: this is how i want you to remember it (2008), when you take everything away, the only thing left is imperfection (2009), everything for a short time (2009), position determines perspective (2011), our velocity (2011), and slow burn (2011).

Talk at CASS

On Monday 25 January 2016 I did a talk at CASS, upon invitation of Ania Dabrowska, a long-time friend, photographer and lecturer. The audience consisted of a mix of BA students in photography, MA students in Fine Art and some staff. I was given 1.5 hours to talk about my views on working with artists, curators and organisations, and my experiences in editing and producing catalogues, monographs and artists’ books. Using a broad range of examples it was a good opportunity to discuss some of my thinking about processes of collaboration, and notions of presentation versus re-presentation, mediation and translation from one medium into another.

As illustration a screen grab of a facebook exchange I had with Paul O’Neill a couple of years ago I used as part of my introduction.

Screen shot 2016-01-28 at 20.37.34

CVAN Creative Writing programme

After having worked with several ‘mentees’ of the CVAN Creative Writing programme, a quick update with links of texts they have published.

The idea of the workshops and the mentoring scheme was that writers based in the North-West of the UK were offered the opportunity to work with a mentor in trying to develop their writing skills and have work published on a variety of platforms. The mentoring involved several skype conversations, and then direct feedback on drafts for a review and a feature-length piece.

The participants varied in age and experience – some having just left art school and not published much yet, while others having PhDs, and in some cases an already extensive portfolio of published work. It made me very aware of the fact that writing is such a multi-faceted endeavour, with so many different ways of writing for so many different aims and objectives, something I’d already hinted at in the workshop I did last year (see a previous post).

Thus far several pieces have been published, with a couple more due (I will update as and when):

Sara Jaspan wrote a review on the exhibition ‘Real Painting’ at Castlefield in Manchester, which was published by Creative Tourist.

Lara Eggleton wrote a review on ‘Assassination, Space Travel & Regeneration: Modern History Volume 1’, curated by Linda Morris at Grundy Art Gallery for The Double Negative.

Amy Thomas visited the art festival C-Art 2015 in Carlisle, also published by The Double Negative.