FiLiA 2017 An Immense Weekend!

Banners 4I want to write while it’s fresh in my mind, but I’m still exhausted and I don’t feel very prepared. So maybe I will write a second post about the exhibition once my brain has come back to life.

I want to recap a little and over the next week or so I will be adding images and films to this site, showing all the work that has come out of the project, From the workshops, from me, and the collaborations of the two.

Friday 13th

We arrived around 5:30 at the IOE to begin setting up and transform the spaces into FiLiArt 2017. This type of exhibition is tricky. It is covering lots of different spaces, lots of different themes and ‘forms’ of work and the venues are often quite concerned…. which was definitely the case here! There were also issues of access, rooms not available to set up etc, but my two areas were clear and ready to go!

I had two large but limited spaces – one being a large lecture theatre that could not have anything large on the walls, and the large foyer to this space which could have very little in it, as the venue did not want people ‘hovering’ in this area and creating a bottleneck. I knew this before-hand so I decided to sit a while and consider how to best present the work, with regard to the project, what I wanted to show and the relevance of how it was shown.

In the large theatre space I decided to simply have two of my large banners – one on either side of the stage. Framing the projected space )of the whole conference) but also framing the three films that I would be screening at both lunch breaks. My amazing friend Dora Schluttenhoffer-Lees helped me on the Friday evening and captured me with jelly legs up the scaffolding tower!

In the foyer I wanted to showcase the workshops, what we had done and the work that had come from them. I decided to place a few photographs of the work that the participants had created, but instead of photos of the work on it’s own i wanted to link it t my own practice. With this in mind I took the work into Aldershot and had ‘Three Impromptu Exhibitions in Aldershot’. (See previous blog post). I then exhibited images of these ‘exhibitions’ on one wall of the foyer. Alongside this I had Vinyl text describing the project and three large portfolios of the work that was produced in the workshops, I placed these on the floor and a table for conference attendees to peruse.

I also wanted to have some projection and a performative element to the work. So I combined the two. I already had some items of clothing that Leah Thorn and I had chosen during the project. The intention had been to combine the work and the clothing, as a reference to Leah’s ‘Older Women Rock’ project. I chose to bring two outfits with me and attach poetry and fragments of collage to the clothing, ad become a ‘walking archive’ of the project. The clothing became a talking point that allowed me to discuss the project with a huge array of people. It was also a simple way of reminding me of each of the conversations we had during the workshops and project. Each of the women I met and their involvement in my work. The final element to my walking archive was to use a portable projector. From this which I carried in my hands and projected into various spaces, ceilings and floors, I projected a fourth film. This film ‘These Hands’ was instigated by a group poem we did during the workshops called This Hand, a wonderful writing tool shown to us by Leah.

Saturday 14th

I had three main elements to my work for the exhibition. These were the film works…. the ‘walking archive’ …. and a series of banners titles ‘Twelve Days of Conversations’. (See previous blog post). Much of my work focuses on hidden voices, and finding ways to subvert this and get the voices to be shown publicly, but silently. I wanted to continue this for FiLiA 2017. I decided from previous visits that the banners would be most effective on the outside of the IOE building. Very visible, tied to railings that look like bars, speaking to passers by, not only people who choose to attend the exhibition or conference.

I had a feeling that the banners may not be well received. Simply because of the nature of public permissions etc plus the difficulties I had already had with regard to the Venue approving elements of my work to be shown. With this in mind I chose not to seek permission to place the banners. It also felt appropriate for my work to not be seeking permission to speak 🙂

With the help of a wonderful volunteer artist ‘Sinead’, we began the arduous process of hanging the banners at 8:00am. By 9:00 we had finished and by 9:30 we had been forced to start the process of taking them down again! (But not before we got some photographs and we got to speak to a number of passers by who were very interested in the work)!

Sat and Sunday

Over the weekend I was able to talk about my work and the project many times over. I was also able to immerse myself in the art work of many other artists and also attend several of the FiLiA workshops. More conversations. More discussion. More debate. And this is what it is about for me. Keeping conversations going, starting new ones, joining in old or ongoing ones.

At the very end of the conference I also decided to ask for a group of volunteers to help me hold up the banners one last time outside the building. A fitting end t a weekend of people speaking out and challenging bullshit.


FiLiA Outside banners 1

That is what I want to do WITH my Art, that is what I want to do IN my Art. I want to think a little about what this project means to me, what it has done for my practice, and what it can do/this type of project can do (be useful for?) going forward.

……………. next blog I think xxxxx

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