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The coming semester (October to December 2015) kicks off with our essay / research project which has to be submitted by the start of the Christmas break. This work must under pin our final practice examples to be displayed at our year 3 exhibition in June 2016.

To prepare the way for an essay that in many ways will form the foundation stones of our developing practice, we have been set the task, in June 2015, of starting the research. To do this we must first decide what direction our practice will take, or put another way which aspects of the last two years of training we feel resonates best with each of us.

This initial research journal entry will document my thoughts on the subject and techniques that I feel could form the basis of my final major project.

The first artist in this 3 year degree training who I felt I could really identify with was Peter Kennard. His montage work was inspirational to me as he managed to ‘shout’ a controversial statement to me by only using a picture. His knack of encapsulating the thoughts of the many and illustrating it in a cleverly designed montage photograph impressed me from the beginning of his two hour talk. It taught me that you can make a comment on the world today if you use the right elements put together into a montage.

I experimented with montage in the first year, and produced 4 x images making comment on the slow destruction of the natural world by the building of large industrial complexes which are left to slowly rot at the end of their usefulness. Echoing this was the work of Sebastião Salgado and his Genesis exhibition which highlighted the rapidly disappearing natural world something that I feel deeply about.

This was a theme I kept revisiting during the next two years both in my year 2 performance portrait – Dead Earth a series using the montages from year one and adding to them a portrait of myself wearing a gas mask in a dystopian vision of a future world devoid of life.

I visited the theme again in my cut out series (also in year 2) which examined the impact fast food restaurants could potentially have on our beauty spots and tourist attractions, again using a form of montage to show the world as it could be if we don’t keep resisting this slow march of profits over nature.

When the year 2 essay was set, I focussed upon the work of Joan Fontcuberta and his ‘Strange Creatures’ exhibition at the science museum in London. This offered me a brand new direction for my studies and the realm of fakery. This fitted in perfectly with my montage approach as all of Kennards work was all fake in that the images he created never actually occurred.

Taking the fakery one step further I merged Kennards high impact statement imagery with the world of ghosts, mediums and the supernatural. My second performance portrait – Whispers in the Dark – focussed on the moment a medium made contact with the ghostly spirits they so readily claim are all around us.

The four supporting portraits, silhouettes of ‘ghosts’ aimed to reinforce the thought that the dead never die and thus were shadowy figures that were dressed in the fashions of the past.

In all the artists work I have seen and examined in the last two years none have connected with me the way Fontcuberta, Kennard and Salgado have, so my thought is to draw once again from these inspirational artists.

As this may not be a good move I am looking for a new artist to draw into my select circle of influence. Thus the first task in my new research is to visit as many galleries and exhibitions as possible in the summer months.

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