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GTCxLICA Creative Community Campus Day: Useful Art

Our 2nd collaboration day on the 1st February between LICA & GTC as part of the Community Campus was a real treat. As a group we attended a series of lectures and participated in group activities on the university site, liaising with tutors/students and taking part in a consultation discussion with Graft with the aim for the creation of their concept of an Artist's Guide/ Handbook.

We thought it would be a good idea to start documenting our visits, whether that would be through photography, video, drawing, ideas for projects, new art work or reflective pieces. This is the first!

We attended a Zoom lecture/talk and Q&A with international artist Sian Bowen.

Sian is currently working in collaboration with Kew Gardens and the V & A. Her work explores “drawing-centred projects in a diverse range of environments including transient architectural spaces, archives, archaeological sites, herbaria and museums”

Her varied showcase presentation, throughout a range of projects included the capturing and cataloguing of the ephemeral, experimenting with tonality of light, space, change, transformation and communicating a state of flux heavily themed in her works as well as her referencing of time.

Thoughts on Sian Bowen's talk by Jules Abraham

I was especially interested in the talk given by Sian Bowen: ‘Capturing The Ephemeral’. Her work was inspired by various methods of recording fleeting art – methods that she picked up on her travels round the world – for instance the black mirrors of Japan. However I wondered if perhaps she was documenting not the ephemeral but the long-lasting – which led me to ask the following question:

“Although it is true that the objects which you photograph are ephemeral – initially they are not art. It seems to me that they become art through their interaction with light and it is the results of this interaction which you capture. So rather than ephemeral, could it be argued that your art emphasises durability – in that you are making permanent that which would otherwise swiftly vanish? Light is, so to speak, fossilizing the things it illuminates and alters. In a metaphorically similar way animals and plants are fossilized by chemicals: the original structures disappear but their images are preserved.”

She showed us various examples of what she had ‘captured’: footprints in the snow, faded and torn wallpaper, the movements of leaves. These suggested to me a possible future investigation – a study of broken pots in ancient rubbish dumps upon which people wrote messages, poems and financial accounts. These are doubly ephemeral. The pots’ initial use as containers ceased when they broke apart – and then the writings on the broken pots were disrupted following further fragmentation. So all we are left with are parts of sentences, isolated numbers, a few words. But we save these for posterity through digitisation. It might be interesting to collage together these ghost phrases. This is art.

“Political and Useful Art” talk with Nathan Jones Fine Art /Digital Media Lecturer at LICA

This useful and political art talk, outlined how reframing context in art can be used as a powerful tool to provoke a porous non-hierarchical social reset. Reframing illusion, reframing desire. Understanding what our values are as a society, how to activate via responses using political art and by being socially active and raising awareness, enabling difficult conversations and taking an Art Util approach.

“What are the emergencies of the moment? Can I operate on a 1:1 scale? Where are my users and how can I have practical, beneficial outcomes for them?”

About doing things, rather than an aesthetic message.

Workshop “What’s the Use?” by Nathan Jones Fine Art /Digital Media Lecturer at LICA

Taking part in a curated discussion and co-design effort, thinking about life, community and art.

We explored the following questions and themes each in turn, in pairs in a musical chairs fashion, in two larger groups. Those from LICA and GTC. This meant we had the opportunity to talk to everyone in the room.

What is the use of your art?

What do you want to do with your art?

What do you want the world to be like?

What do you want to do with your life?

“Artist Survival Guide” consultation session with Ellie Barrett founder & Director of Graft

We took part in a consultation discussion with Graft aimed at the collaborative development of an Artist's Guide/ Handbook. The discussion was preceded by a Q&A around concerns artists may have about their present/future circumstances.

Our group offered lots of useful active lived artist experience within a community setting as a contribution. Mixing with students, development of ideas and discussions of future links.

Exhibition 'Adaptation' Showing at The Storey Institute till 17th February

We also had an invitation to participate in Up North Arts/LICA ‘Adaptation’ show

Family Running by Andrew Holland

The exhibition is currently running in The Storey Gallery in Lancaster till the 17th! There was a 2 day tight deadline to get an application in, but our wonderful Andrew Holland submitted a beautiful piece. We look forward to more collective members collaborating in the future. Pop in and have a look if you're in the area.

Notes by Charlotte Done…

Artist Sian Casey

Professor of drawing

Hovers at the boundaries of drawing. Ancient and Ghostly

Fire Fly Basket - small space in a vast place.

How can a state of flux be communicated?

Prints frozen in the ice - white not tonal.

Materials that respond to light - gold - pin picks - water marks.

Fugitive- subject to change over time.

Useful and political art

Deploy art tools to be politically active.

Reframe illusion and desire.

Ways to curate art can be political.

How to display? Inform?

Invite people to talk about difficult things.

Images of desire.

Educational process.

ARTE UTIL - innovators & users.

Art Collab in opposition to celebrity culture .

What are the urgencies of the moment?

Who are my users and how can my art have practical and beneficial use??

Disruptive art - politics and business copied it.

Collaborative & cooperative art. They are going to copy!!!

Political idea or desire?

How to circulate it??

Our next trip up to LICA is coming up next week on Tuesday 15th February! If you'd like to connect with us to attend on Tuesday or consequent visits please let us know via email or



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