Saturday, 27 September 2008

Nine Trades draft

An amended proposal for the Nine Trades project:

Nine Trades proposal

My intention with my art practice has been to create objects and installations that posit a variety of alternative belief systems. The work employs an obscure strategy of camp and deadpan humour to invoke the strange and the marvellous. I see my practice in general as being a form of collage, bringing together seemingly incongruous elements to create new meanings. Art happens from what would previously be dismissed. Recently I have used writing and design as a way to communicate my ideas. This has been done through critical writing for my blog or for The List magazine, or through design work for the Yuck ‘n Yum fanzine.

Since 2003 I have worked as a customer service advisor at the Halifax / Bank of Scotland call centre in Dundee. Initially this was on a part-time basis during my Fine Art degree, before I increased my hours to near enough full-time after graduation. While completing the postgraduate MDes course in Design I moved back to part-time hours, then again back to full-time once I had completed that course.

Throughout this time I have felt that the day job and my artistic practice have not been connected in any way whatsoever. This is a source of some frustration to me, and I see this project as an opportunity to perhaps rectify the situation. I have generally felt it necessary to compartmentalise my practice and my working life, seeing the job as being simply a means to an end. The environment of my job is highly structured and controlled, while the creative practice rewards intuition and an open-minded approach.

Despite this difference, there is still some room for art in the working environment. Many people draw or ‘doodle’ during their time at work, and this activity interests me as being an all too rare outlet for expression. The doodles themselves are usually thrown away once the shift is finished, so one idea for this project is to present the ephemeral workplace scribbles as being somehow timeless and monumental. The drawings could be used as the starting point for a larger composite piece, bringing together the productions of various employees in a singular artwork that would lend grandeur to what might have been thrown away and destroyed.

I would be interested in teaching my fellow employees a process such as screenprinting or etching, using the DCA print studio or the Duncan of Jordanstone printmaking department to achieve this. To doodle using these techniques could prove interesting both for the potential artists and also for the viewer as well. This idea has potential as a site-specific artwork where the doodles could be framed and displayed as artworks on the walls of the working environment, away from their usual destination at the bottom of the waste-paper basket.

Having discussed the idea with colleagues there is plenty of interest. The main task will be to organise time so that people can honour all their many commitments such as college, family or other jobs. Having discussed this with a few of the likely participants, it seems that most would be willing to give up an hour each week to develop the project. This would be subject to discussions with staff at the printmaking studios, and suitable arrangements would have to be made.

I would be especially interested in the possibility of documenting this project online. Since graduating I have kept a blog that serves as a journal for any ideas I might have for art, writing or anything else. I am also a member of the editorial team at Yuck ‘n Yum magazine, a Dundee-based art fanzine that collects together the art and writing of various contributors based in Dundee and Scotland. The project would give me the chance to use some of this experience in organising and documenting events, and also allow colleagues the chance to document their own progress as the work takes shape. Similarly, an event such as an exhibition of the completed work would allow participants to engage with the art that they produce, unseen and unacknowledged, each day of their working lives.

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