Body Dysfunction

I have finished.  My two-year course undertaking an FDA in Fine Art (Contemporary Practice) at Sussex Coast College is over. I have been accepted by Brighton to do an MA in Fine Art and will be starting that in September. It all began in the summer of 2010 when I was complaining to Mary Jacobsen, herself an art teacher in the West Country, how I had been made to give up art at school in favour of Latin which I hated. She suggested that I should sign up for a Foundation Diploma. Until that point it had never occurred to me  to become an art student; I had done a bit of painting and a bit of sculpture over the years but oddly the idea of going back to school had not crossed my mind. I am so grateful to her. In the event I skipped the Diploma stage and went straight into the degree course. It has been an amazing two years; in one way the time has gone extremely quickly but also I find it had to believe that two years ago I had not heard of all sorts of artists whose work I can now recognise when I go into galleries.

Tonight is the Final Exhibition at Sussex Coast College. The exhibition is also open to the public next week.  Do come along if you are in Hastings. My work is Body Dysfunction. These three works Orifice 2, 3 and 4 are part of a study that examines our feelings about the way that our physical bodies are out of the control of our minds. They also relate to my earlier painting Brain Dysfunction

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Sue McDougall: Orifice 2 – part of the Body Dysfunction Series
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Sue McDougall: Orifice 4 – part of the Body Dysfunction Series
Orifice 2
Sue McDougall: Orifice 3 – part of the Body Dysfunction series

It survived the night

Most artists are only too happy for their artwork to be kept within the relatively safe confines of a the walls of a gallery. While you might get some idiot with a can of spray paint or a Stanley knife decide to deface it, on the whole such attacks are pretty rare. But Hastings is not known to be the most art loving town in Britain so when Daniel Dowling decided to put his art work on the outside of the Blue Room rather than on the inside, none of us was absolutely certain it would be there in the morning. But it survived; thank you late night Hastings revellers for leaving it alone.

Dan, who is undertaking the third year of a BA Hons in Fine Art at Sussex Coast College, is fascinated by Britain’s industrial heritage. He created the work  specially  for the Blue Room by taking a rubbing  from a piece of rock from the site of the Workington Steel Works in Cumbria.  The few pieces of rock were all  that remained from what used to one of Britain’s major industrial sites. Dan has a personal connection with Workington because his great-grandfather used to be a boiler maker there.  Dan then used the rubbing to create a screen print on pieces of  linen which he has sown together to give the Blue Room its  brand new covering.

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The Blue Room with its new blue covering.
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Daniel and his grandmother Mildred Dowling , whose father used to work as a boiler maker at Workington.
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The repeated image allows for lots of variation

What is interesting about the work is the variety that Dan has created whilst repeating the same basic pattern. It certainly excited interest when he put it up yesterday. His grandmother Mildred Dowling who was there to see this unique memorial to her father also seemed to approve. Provided the work survives another night unguarded, you should still be able to see it tomorrow morning.


Curating the Room

Ok – you have two days. The assignment is to think about the nature of clothing, and turn a garment or garments into a different sculptural form. This was the challenge given to 60 Foundation Diploma students at Sussex Coast College. Then, unexpectedly, Katy Oxborrow and I were given a challenge ourselves. We were asked to consider the resulting art works and choose from them to set up the first exhibition in the  Room – the mobile gallery standing outside the college. This was yesterday lunchtime; by the evening the exhibition was set up. We do things fast in Hastings. It was difficult making a choice; so many of the works were excellent; we had to consider not only what we thought was good but also what would fit and what would work well together. Here are the works we chose in no particular order.

Jamie Bitmead: Office Mess
Lauren Brooker: Sea Foam
Mel Monk: Breakdown of Communication
Anya Cecil: Forensic
Suzi Iverson: suspended skirt
George Moody: Journey of identity (detail)
Saskia Sullivan: Jacket Deconstructed
Grant Bingham: Number 3
Kern Fairburn: Untitled
Evie Allum: Inspired by Shakespeare
Tom Penney: Collar
Megan Donfresco: Chemistry Set
Jess Styles: Circles

Next week there will be a new exhibition in the Room

Sussex Coast College Foundation Degree Show

What is the different between fine art and craft? The dividing line seemed virtually invisible at the Foundation Degree show in Fine Art Contemporary Practice and in Craft at Sussex Coast College. Traditionally craft has been applied to the creation of objects which may have utilitarian function or be decorative, which are hand produced and where the creation requires a learnt skill which adheres to certain standards, whilst the term art is applied to works which have a meaning, which express emotion and which communicates with viewers. There is supposed to be a difference in the way the objects are created; craft is more structured; art is more open-ended. As I looked round exhibition I found myself checking labels to see whether works were produced by Craft students or by Fine Artists.  There were some surprises: that is the way it should be. Here are a few of the works:

I particularly liked Gilles Buxton’s heads – somewhat eerily mounted on sticks as though severed from their bodies and acting as a warning to potential transgressors.

Robert Dennis’ work focuses upon the textures of the natural world, displayed through castings, rubbings and film. Both Dennis and Buxton were undertaking the FDA in craft.

The 100 lucky golden bears by Lyn Dale on the other hand were from the art side. I must admit to a partiality to the bears having found one.They were hidden about the college and the finders were invited to write in with their comments.

They are supposed to bring the holders luck and who knows perhaps they will. The 100th bear was splendidly presented gleaming under a glass box on a black plinth. The comments of the finders were displayed on a nearby screen and some can also be seen on the lucky bear website. My bear at least for the time being is sitting on the nose of the stuffed alligator on the mantlepiece. Here to prove it is a picture.

Two contrasting films caught my eye.  Deborah Ward’s Voices in Trauma shows a woman on two screens; in each case she appears gagged by something which we can’t quite identify – an insect perhaps; it juts out of her mouth; it is both fascinating and disturbing

Also exploring the idea of being trapped but in a very different way was Shammi Begum’s film about child brides. A figures moves inside what could be a bridal gown or perhaps a shroud and she cannot escape.

Film was part of Frith Lawson-Johnson ‘s A Marriage of Waves.  Wires have been stretched between two groynes; they mimic the pattern of her brain waves as revealed on an EEG scan. Lawson-Johnson suffers from epilepsy and the wires appear to oscillate alarmingly though how different they are from the brain waves of those who do not  have epileptic episodes I could not judge.  On the film we see the sea come in and engulf them. Lawson Johnson explains that in a world that has become so fast paced we have forgotten the forces around us that affect the way we think and act. By connecting her brain waves to the sea she is connecting with the power that nature has on us and is redressing the balance.


Wave meets wave

On your marks

My name is Sue McDougall; I am a mature student at Brighton University taking a foundation degree in Fine Art Contemporary Practice. The course itself is held at Sussex Coast College. Mature students are defined as all those over 21. If students were classified like cheese I reckon that would see me as level 6: extra mature, or possibly 5 on a good day. This site will mainly be about contemporary art, photography, exhibitions, artists and the projects I am working on. You might find you get mentioned too.