Blog post Five, a-n review meeting with Jennifer Higgie

Our final a-n review bursary meeting took place last month with Jennifer Higgie – it was especially beneficial to for us to get feedback from Jennifer as we had not met her before in any context. Jennifer’s generosity has been invaluable for us, below is a brief overview of some of the feedback from the meeting.

Jennifer gave us her feedback on the Obscure Secure wordpress site and her perception of the project from the material she could find online. She highlighted the need for us to be more explicit about the research we had done and the information we had uncovered and suggested pulling it together so that it could become a resource for others to utilise (and possibly add / contribute to in the future).

She questioned us about the nature of our collaboration and its connection with our individual practice. It was interesting to unpick, with her help, the nature of how working together has fed us and our work, and how working together has been a significant experience for us (each in our different ways) and one we intend on continuing with – also the relevance of bringing our own practice into this exploration of other artists work. Another area of focus was to look at why we have shifted our focus from the women artists in the collection in Ipswich to Mary Potter.


Image: Mary Potter, Exhibition invite from 1939

How lucky are we to have been awarded an a-n review bursary to meet with four amazing women to review, reflect and interrogate our project Obscure Secure and discuss our new project. There are some threads and observations that have emerged in all the meetings on how we can improve and move forward with our new project. The meetings spaced at two month intervals have given us time for thorough review and reflection with time to process these very important review meetings. We have a lot of hard work ahead but we are feeling more confident and very excited.

Links to previous posts

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This blog post is written collaboratively by Claudia Boese, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley and posted by Claudia Boese on a-n blogs.



Meeting with Martha Fleming , September 2015,  a-n Review blog- post three

Beginning to Surface our Methodology

We spent a Sunday afternoon in September with Martha Fleming. This was the second of our four meetings we have planned with arts professionals as part of our a-n Review bursary. We discussed practice, research, methodology and working with museums and collections.

It was such a wonderful and beneficial afternoon for us – Martha’s knowledge, generosity and experience as an artist and as the director of the collections based research programme at Reading University provided us with invaluable discussions, ideas, information and lots to think about and look at. We discussed with Martha how we may develop our new project which has a focus at this present time on the painter Mary Potter (1900-1981). It also includes a possible collaboration with museums and a residency. Our ideas are still at an early stage of development.

Studio Practice / Parallel / Research

Martha spoke about “artist-driven epistemology” and how this relates to our research and practice, for example, how it shapes the questions we might ask: How is it that we paint now?  As women? She also talked about the “layered temporalities of practice” (the state of existing within or having some relationship with time) that we surfaced in our previous project Obscure Secure. We are of the twentieth century, we carry a connection to the era of the artists we are working with. We carry the thread into 21st century practice. To make present.

(Epistemology – noun Philosophy – the theory of knowledge, esp. with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.)  

Martha shared with us some practicalities and procedures that we need to be aware of when working with museums and collections. She also highlighted the knowledge and experience we gained during our project (Obscure Secure) working with Christchurch Mansion and the value it has for us in taking our new ideas forward. We went on to discuss the benefits of affiliations with institutions when carrying out research.

Presenting research

The possibilities of presenting research that can be site specific depending on the  circumstances / venue, we discussed ways of infiltrating / adding to existing information; and how the collation of information adds value to collections, connecting them to contemporary artists practice.

The above blog post only just touches the surface of our afternoon spent with Martha. We would like to stress again the value of recording the meetings / discussions –  referring back to the the discussions has proved invaluable for us to process and continue to evaluate and review our developing new project. We are all feeling very excited by the possibilities that lay ahead.

Our next meeting is in November with Rebecca Fortnum artist, writer and academic.

This blog post is written collaboratively by Claudia Boese, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley and posted by Claudia Boese on a-n blogs.

Links to previous posts

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Post 2

‘They didn’t know where it was anymore. Basically.’ 

Obscure Secure – Review bursary blog/second post

a-n Re:View bursary meeting Valerie Sinason

Last month we met with psychoanalyst, poet and writer Valerie Sinason to reflect on our project Obscure Secure as part of our a-n Re:view bursary.

It was exactly two years ago (2013) that we met Valerie for the first time, at the beginning of our project. The second time we met her she was in conversation with Frances Spalding as part of our Obscure Secure programme of talks at Christchurch Mansion in November 2014.This means we have met her at key stages of our collaborative project’s development and our individual development as artists (three meetings in total).

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Image: From Helen Kiddall’s archive box, research Ipswich Borough Stores, June 2014

I have felt extremely privileged to involve Valerie in our project. I first discovered her whilst studying art therapy and was deeply moved by her writing in a book of clinical case studies. She has been so generous with us – giving us time and valuable insights through her amazing ability to consider and reflect – her clarity and openness are rich ground for challenging our ideas. Hayley Field, August 2015

In the mid 90’s I used to live in Golders Green and was a student at the Royal Academy Schools. I am German and if I had known that Valerie lived just round the corner, I might have been her client and what we would have talked about I can only imagine. Visiting her 20 years later as part of our Obscure Secure enquiry in July this year was an amazing experience for me. Valerie was very welcoming to the three of us, sharing and developing themes and questions centring on the human condition. Claudia Boese, August 2015

I wasn’t familiar with Valeries work until Claudia and Hayley introduced it to me – and if I am honest I couldn’t quite see how meeting with Valerie at the beginning stages of our project back in 2013 would be of benefit. I was wrong – after our first meeting I understood fully why. Valerie’s lovely warm, welcoming and holistic way of connecting to our very tentative beginnings of ideas / thoughts around our project interwoven with her questions and generous observations were invaluable. It felt fitting to be visiting her two years after that first meeting. Jacqueline Utley, 2015

A brief summary of our a-n Review bursary meeting with Valerie Sinason in July 2015

Our meeting  with Valerie Sinason took place last month, we used it to reflect on what we had achieved with Obscure Secure. We explored the complexities we had experienced  working with a collection and archives. Valerie reflected on our thoughts from a psychoanalytical viewpoint alongside contributing her own creative thinking as a writer and poet.

We were particularly interested as artists in ideas around collections, archives and research and how they are able to resurrect women artists lives and works momentarily rather than demonstrating a kind of ancestral worship. Our conversation regularly touched on concepts such as ‘permission, responsibility, gender, power structures and collaborations’. We reflected with Valerie on how artists from collections may also  play a role as catalysts for our own projections and new paintings/work.

The meeting investigated thinking processes; how our project had developed organically and the learning that had taken place as we proceeded. Valerie highlighted that we have gained knowledge as well as authority and ownership from our project Obscure Secure. There was no formal methodology while researching for Obscure Secure – while we are keen to continue to be open to uncertainty and chance to develop our new project we have gained experience and expect a new methodology and structure to evolve whilst further clarifying our focus during the course of our Re:view bursary meetings and critiques.

Our meeting with Valerie lasted two hours and we recorded this discussion. We are so pleased to have a record of this conversation as it has proved to be a vital resource for now and later.

Our next Re:view critique and meeting is in September with Martha Flemming , artist and Director of University of Reading’s Collections Based Research Programme.

This blog post is written collaboratively by Claudia Boese, Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley and posted by Claudia Boese on a-n blogs.

Obscure Secure – Review bursary 

Our first Review bursary post and a brief Introduction

We Claudia Böse , Hayley Field and Jacqueline Utley initiated and collaborated on the project Obscure Secure. We looked at work by 20th century women artists in Ipswich Borough council collection and made new work in response. The project culminated in an exhibition and series of talks from September 2014 to February 2015.

Obscure Secure at CCM

Image: Obscure Secure, Wolsey Gallery, Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, September 2014-January 2015

a-n Review bursary

We are delighted to have been awarded one of a-n’s Review bursaries. The bursary will enable us to undertake four professional critique meetings. We will be reflecting on our previous project  Obscure Secure and taking our learning forward into a future collaboration we are planning.The new project involves us looking at archives relating to the painter Mary Potter. The four meetings are planned over an eight month period.

The blog

We will be using this space/blog to share this process.

Our first meeting is in July with Valerie Sinason, who practices as a psychoanalyst, poet and writer. We first met with Valerie at the beginning of our project in July 2013 to discuss artist’s processes. It feels fitting that our first meeting is with Valerie to review our last project and discuss/critique some of the themes we are taking forward into our new project.

Here is a link to a transcription : Valerie Sinason and Frances Spalding in conversation which was part of the Obscure Secure programme of talks (November 2014).