Art destruction

As one of the UK’s richest artists prepares to burn thousands of his paintings, Dr Jared Pappas-Kelley, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Teesside University and author of Solvent Form; Art and Destruction, shares his views on the destruction of art in the Guardian.


Dr Jared Pappas-Kelley

Dr Jared Pappas-Kelley is the course leader for MA Fine Art at Teesside University and supervises PhD students doing practice-based research in Fine Art as well as teaching on both the MA Fine Art and the BA Fine Art. He gained his PhD in Philosophy, Art and Critical Thought (PACT) at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, and in his own practice as a visual artist he focuses on an instability in the art object and the intersection between practice and theory.

His book, Solvent Form, explores the destruction of art, both in terms of objects that have been destroyed – lost in fires, floods or vandalism – and the general concept of art operating through object and form.  He examines events such as the warehouse fire at Momart in 2004 and works indirectly destroyed by art thief Stephane Breitwieser, ultimately proposing the idea of solvent form (hinging on the dual meaning in the words solvent and solvency) whereby art, while attempting to make secure or fixed, likewise undoes and destroys through its inception.

Artist Damien Hirst recently revealed that he will be burning thousands of his paintings at his London gallery to show art as ‘currency’. His announcement has brought both condemnation and praise from the art community – Dr Pappas-Kelley would argue that all objects of art hold their own destruction latent within them. Commenting in the Guardian on the Momart warehouse fire which destroyed about £30m of British art, he suggests that such an event is good for revealing the way art metaphorically trips on the carpet. Of the fascination with fire and destruction in art events like this, Dr Pappas-Kelley observed, ‘In theory no one is neutral at these specific fires – you either set it, are attempting to put it out or are watching the spectacle of it.’

Image by bedneyimages on Freepik

Hirst, who dominated the art scene in the 1990s will burn his paintings over several weeks, culminating in a final blaze during the Frieze Art Fair in London. Whilst some suggest that this is nothing more than a great publicity stunt, Hirst hardly needs the money, purported to be the richest living artist in the UK. Others see it as something more, an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ act of destruction that creates opportunity for a creative phoenix to rise from the flames.

Dr Pappas-Kelley is currently working on further book projects – one a collection of manifestos commissioned by contemporary artists and thinkers, the other a collection of short reflection pieces on works by contemporary artists such as Janine Antoni, Uta Barth, Terrence Koh, and Kiki Smith. He brings his wealth of knowledge and research activity into the classroom, informing teaching and benefiting students of Fine Art at Teesside.


Find out more about Fine Art at Teesside University:

BA (Hons) Fine Art

MA Fine Art

Live briefs, research and community engagement

We’re often told that research informs teaching, but what does that really mean? Here’s a great example of how the research undertaken by academic staff supports innovative teaching methods and informs teaching.


Senior Lecturer in Comics and Graphic Novels , Julian Lawrence is an award-winning cartoonist and educator specialising in comic books. Julian’s work concentrates on the undercurrents of communication through gesture in the medium of comics.

In June 2021 Julian presented his conference paper, 21st Century Winter Journey, at the Media Communication and Cultural Studies Association Conference (MeCSSA). The paper introduces his visual essay book chapter describing a collaborative comics-based research (CBR) project between a homeless charity and a cohort of 2nd-year university students. The 21st Century Winter Journey project explores the status of community art education (CAE) in Middlesbrough UK, and the ways learning and making comics impacts communities locally and internationally.

Cover by Julian Lawrence

The project challenged Year Two students in Comics & Graphic Novels at Teesside University to make comics, do research beyond the classroom boundaries, and explore the surrounding local community. Academics and students partnered with staff and homeless members of Streetwise Opera (SWO) who were staging a performance of Schubert’s opera Winterreise. SWO provides resources and community support to people affected by homelessness across the UK. The task as a class was to collaboratively develop the opera into a narrative with SWO and adapt the libretto into a graphic novel.

Traditional comics-making methods informed the foundation of the project’s artistic practice:

• Rough sketches and thumbnails based on research
• Cleaner pencil drawings and lettering
• Rendering inks and colours
• Final, camera-ready artwork.

Following each iteration, SWO and Julian (as tutor) gave students feedback and revisions.

Page by Ebonny Cavanagh

Julian suggests that analysis of the project widens conversations in CAE through Research Informed Teaching (RIT), Just-In-Time Teaching (JITT) and Paolo Freire’s “conscientizaçāo” (awareness). RITT, JITT, and awareness triangulate and locate learning in a community’s relational and public spaces. In applying these theories with cartooning practices, a powerful pedagogical tool emerges. When students become researchers and make comics they negotiate their understandings of community, their identities, and their futures. These observations are evidenced in the reflections students wrote as well as in the finished comics they submitted at the conclusion of the project. RIT, JITT, awareness, and cartooning guide the flow of artistic practice through shared group experiences within community spaces.

Page by Mia Redfern

Forms of comics such as comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels are recognized internationally. Creative practices of making comics and cartooning are transferrable to schools, community centres, universities, and care homes everywhere. As such, the medium of comics functions as a transversal language and participatory culture that links people and communities together.

Tragically, the global pandemic hit as students were developing the comic, and all teaching migrated online. Despite increased pressure to self-isolate, socially distance, and learn online the 64-page graphic novel was successfully completed and deliverd as Christmas presents in December 2020.  Julian continues to use live briefs to encourage research and create meaningful and community-based learning in and outside of the classroom for students.

The School of Arts & Creative Industries offers both a BA Comics & Graphic Novels and an MA Comics & Graphic Novels

 

Studying a Practice-Based PhD

Alyson Agar, a part time Practice-Based PhD Student in her second year of studies, talks about studying at the School of Arts & Creative Industries


My name is Alyson Agar, and I am a second-year PhD student at the School of Arts & Creative Industries at Teesside University. My PhD is practice-based and is situated between fine art and photographic and moving-image practices. My area of research is focused on the experience of landscape, and how we experience our surroundings through photography, specifically the spaces between the photograph and the photographic image.

Alyson Agar, Visual Poems of Place, 2022

As a PhD student at the School of Arts & Creative Industries, I have been able to access some amazing opportunities as part of my studies. I started my PhD in 2020 and joined a wonderful cohort of fellow artists, designers and researchers who are active in the school, as well as working nationally and internationally. We meet regularly to share ideas, experiences and support one another (often over a cup of coffee and the best cakes in town at MIMA café!)

Making connections

As PhD students, we also meet for regular PGR seminars and research study days, led by our fabulous MIMA Professor. In the last year, we have held joint seminars with staff and students at the University of Westminster and the University of Sunderland, where we’ve had the opportunity to share ideas, discuss our work and make connections with other PhD students working in similar fields.

MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art)

As PhD Researchers, we have taken part in Praxis seminars where we have shown our work in MIMA for discussion and critique from MIMA curators, and we’ve also taken part in specialist art theory seminars with invited scholars and writers in our fields. These seminars have inspired events such as research exhibitions and reading groups.

We’re also very lucky to have access to the MIMA collections. I have spent much of this year exploring the MIMA collections as part of my PhD research, in particular, MIMA’s incredible collection of photography and moving image works, which includes photographers who have documented Teesside including Robin Dale and Ian MacDonald, as well the work of John Akromfrah, Sonia Boyce, and Kader Attia, who have been huge influences in the development of my work.

Collaboration

One of the most wonderful aspects of studying for a PhD at the School of Arts & Creative Industries is the ethos of collaboration is at the very heart of the school. Although my practice is rooted in photography, I have been able to access other mediums with ease – from the wonderful printmaking facilities at Parkside to immersive media and technology at Aurora House. I am also incredibly lucky to be able to access such specialist technical support from technicians right across the school, from the initial stages of experimentation to the technical support regarding exhibition installation.

Events for students

The School of Arts & Creative Industries is unique, it is progressive and interdisciplinary and so very welcoming. The ways in which the MIMA gallery, the collection, and the teaching intersect is a constant source of inspiration. This year, postgraduate students in the school have enjoyed a magnificent performance piece in the Collections gallery by artist and theatre-maker, Duncan Evennou, we’ve attended the Championing Creative Education Conference with Professor Simon James, and we’ve been guests at the openings of the Chemical City exhibition, and the inaugural Art + Social No.1 event.

Art + Social is a space for students from the School of Arts & Creative Industries to connect, test ideas, curate pop-up shows, screen experimental film works and showcase new performance pieces within the MIMA gallery spaces, Art + Social is a wonderful way to celebrate the wonderful community we’re part of at the School of Arts & Creative Industries.

Studying here

To sum up, I’ve found the School of Arts & Creative Industries to be a wonderful place to study for a PhD. Experimental, innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving, and developing practice through contemporary critical, conceptual and technical approaches, are at the centre of learning and teaching. Professionally, the school has offered valuable research training, with regular training and CPD opportunities offered university-wide, and perhaps most importantly, I feel part of an inspiring, inclusive, supportive community in which discussion, collaboration, and togetherness drives positive and innovative contributions to contemporary arts practice in the region and further afield. Thanks, School of Arts & Creative Industries!

For any further inquiries regarding studying a PhD at the School of Arts & Creative Industries, please do feel free to reach out to me on:

a.agar@tees.ac.uk

Alyson Agar

Instagram  @alyson_agar_visualartist

LinkedIn

Truth is the first casualty of war

Paul Bailey, Course Leader for Journalism awards in the School of Arts & Creative Industries, discusses the role of journalism in times of conflict


“Truth,” it has been said, “is the first casualty of war.” When hostilities break out the one object of each belligerent nation is victory. “All is fair in war,” and to secure and maintain national unity in support of the war every means are taken by the respective governments to suppress criticism.

Little did we all think that in 2022 we would be witnessing the horrors now unfolding in the Ukraine. We have seen the images of war on our television screens, the bombed out buildings and the streams of thousands of refugees fleeing to safety. But what is the truth? How authentic are the things we are seeing and hearing? What is false and what is not?

It’s been reported that Russia has closed down social media sites like Facebook; Instagram and Twitter to stop the flow of information. Russian state media journalists have also been told to tow the party line, to obey authority so as not to cause trouble, or face severe punishment. George Orwell’s statement that “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want published; everything else is public relations” has never seemed so apt.

Honest truthful journalism is the backbone of any country that wants to give a voice to its population. In peacetime it can hold Government to account – How did we know Boris Johnson allegedly attended some parties during the Covid lockdown? Would we have found out without journalists asking questions?

In wartime we rely on honest truthful journalists to tell us what is happening on the frontline. It does not go without its dangers. Already we have seen US journalist and filmmaker Brent Renaud killed in Ukraine as he reported on the conflict.

Here in the UK we have a tradition of having journalists that are professionally trained and understand that ethical unbiased reporting is what is important.  Anyone can go on social media and comment about the war in Ukraine but comment is not reporting.

That is why in times of crisis we can turn to the BBC; Sky; ITN and watch television reports and listen to radio broadcasts we know have been produced by professionally trained ethically unbiased reporters. We can read accounts of the Ukraine war in national newspapers because we have confidence in the journalists bringing those stories to us.

That confidence comes because of the training those journalists have received. If you think you have what it takes to become a professionally trained ethically sound and unbiased journalist then click on the links below.

BA (Hons) Journalism

BA (Hons) Sport Journalism

 

Paul Bailey is a Senior Lecturer (Media) in the School of Arts & Creative Industries at Teesside University He is the Course Leader for our Journalism Degrees