For my work experience during the summer I decided to try and work with an artist, as I have had experience with museums and art groups before.
I sent several emails to different artists and only two came back to me with available work. So I went with the one that interested me the most. This was Chris Jones and his paper sculptures, he also happens to be a visiting artist to the Uni so he knew who I was and had other students helping him out from the Uni from time to time before.
Paper bike by Chris Jones
My work is both sculptural and photography based around man made materials that have been either discarded or have malfunctioned in some way. I thought working with a professional artists who is also working in sculpture and is distributing his work to several art fairs, would be both useful and insightful as to how hard it is and how committed an artist you have to be to produce work for a gallery, without compromising your ideas.
One job was to dust this ready for varnish
My role was as an assistant to what he was producing. Chris’s present work is constructed from materials that have been discarded old magazines, books and encyclopedias. When you see his work you do have to look close to see there is more than meets the eye, there is another narrative deeper within the work and you have to get close to see this and pick out what is beneath the surface.
This is what grabbed my attention within his work. It tells a story and forces the viewer to look deep beyond the surface, and create a narrative of their own be that a utopian or dystopian view of the world and its spaces.
Chris allowed me to be quite involved and there were still lots to do to get the work finished for shipping to New York. To start with I was helping to prepare the materials, there were lots of little jobs like wrapping paper around strips of card cutting papers and magazines to size, organizing them into colours, sticking them on to backing ready to be simply put or pasted into place.
There were several of these large 3D paper wall sculptures to get finished, so as we were putting them together, I was allowed to make comments or remarks as how I thought a piece looked, or if I didn’t think something fitted or looked right, Chris was happy to take my comments on board and sometimes alter things accordingly,or not. So it was really encouraging for me to be able to do. The final job for this project was to varnish the pieces. This took a long time, as they each needed 5 coats of varnish, which was painted on very slowly. I was reasonably quick with this task, which was helpful for Chris as he did get a call while I was there from his gallery in New York.
Working in the studio
Chris gave me the opportunity to listen in on this call by putting it on Skype. It was interesting to see how the dynamic of gallery and artist has to work.
The volume of work involved with producing wall sized art made from tiny bits of paper, rather like a collage or mosaic of dioramas,is huge and takes lots of planning .
Chris said my work and help was invaluable and really helped to get it all finished on time. He was really pleased with how involved I got and how inquisitive I was. As during this whole time I was constantly asking him questions about his art, art history, Uni, politics, art films and music, and he recommended some good things to me to read or watch, we did seem to have a lot in common with regards to our creative sides, and worked quite well together.
This experience has shown me a lot, and I now realize how hard it would be if you just wanted to live off selling your art. That being said I still wouldn’t change my decision to change my career to art and art related work.
I have had an incite into how a gallery works with an artist, and how as a practicing artist you have to factor in a lot of things like time and planning, you also have to thing about where your work is going to be hung or displayed and if the climate is acceptable for your type of work.
There is the help you may need, packaging and delivery of your work. I have also learnt about the practicalities of a studio space, and how working from dusk till dawn needs commitment. I know this experience will help me in the future with how I organise and plan my work and how I develop from being a student artist to a practicing artist.