Staff research: Graphite

The exhibition Graphite began as a discussion between artist Michael Mulvihill and myself. As we were both drawing and interested in each other’s work, we decided to do a small show within the project space of the studios we were in and examine further the areas of shared interest.

Having done this, we extended this out into two written proposals, which we then began discussions with places we thought might be interested in showing either one. We thought the exhibition Graphite was particularly suited to an educational setting as it had a strong emphasis on process and it’s relationship to contemporary practice and it’s conceptual concerns.

Having selected artists within our proposal it was a great opportunity to go out and visit them in their studios. The conversations we had there were really intended to help us select works as curators but as artists we found them really fascinating. We learnt very practical things about the kinds of research people invested in and how this affected their output. We thought that publishing these conversations would allow an audience to better understand the studio practice of the artists and appreciate the works better. We also thought it would be most interesting to students and fellow artists. We were a little tired too, of seeing curators impose their views of an artists work when most often as artists we’re just interested in how things are made and make links to their concepts this way.

So as well as organising the works we endeavoured to re-interview all of the artists; recording them, then transcribing them pretty much as they happened. It was enjoyable to go into a space and have an someone reveal so much about their work, the tone very much set according to the personality and approach of the individual artist. It was a bit like a crit or peer review at university really. There was a lot of understanding about the process gone through to make the work and we also developed a clearer view of how the messy work of the studio and concepts were related.

So really the exhibition is a selection of drawings (mostly) using graphite, that we think, although traditional in some senses, have a range of contemporary and conceptual concerns. The exhibition also includes a publication of interviews with the artists and some writing. There will also be an artist panel discussion on the work, which we hope the public, students and other artists will come along to. It should be a good opportunity to ask questions, understand the show better and make connections with your own processes and studio practices.


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