The Advent of the Woolly Hat Fair

IMG_1263Every year, as December rolls around, millions of children (and many adults too) look forward to opening the doors on their advent calendar to see the day’s picture and probably enjoy a chocolate treat. This year Winchester’s Hat Fair have gone a step further by bringing the Woolly Hat Fair advent calendar to the city.

Every day, from the 1st to the 24th December a new door is opening , and a new event is happening, somewhere in the city.

Stories, music, theatre, chocolate fun (of course), and choral events are just some of the goings-on, and on 11th December Winchester School of Art (WSA) added their present to the pile with a ‘Festive Fashion Upcycle’.

‘Upcycling’ is a way of improving and reusing an old, second-hand item to create something new. WSA students, along with the Winchester Action on Climate Change  group, led a workshop for local schools and colleges in which they taught the pupils this skill and helped them create new from old.

IMG_1266Given the time of year, it was only appropriate that the workshop involved making a Christmas tree from second-hand clothes.  A metal skeleton of the tree was fashioned by WSA’s Chris Carter, and the MA Fashion students, along with staff members Reem Alasadi, Delia Crowe and Wendy Turner, covered it in fabric and built a marvellous creation out of second hand clothes.

IMG_1289WSA’s “door” to the Gallery opened at 5pm on Friday 11th and 80 members of the public, including many children, were welcomed in with mince pies and they all sat down with the MA Fashion students and created decorations for the tree, again out of second hand clothes.  The students were magnificent with the children and a wonderfully Christmassy time was had by all.

 

The normal Hat Fair takes place in July, and more information can be found at www.hatfair.co.uk

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Blueberry Soup served up at WSA

On Monday 9th November, the MA in Global Media Management welcomed filmmaker Eileen Jerrett to the Winchester School of Art for a screening of her documentary,Blueberry Soup.

The film takes a close look at how the people of Iceland reacted to the financial crisis of 2008. It examines how they rewrote their national constitution in order to recover from the crash and to prevent it from happening to them again. The focus of the documentary is on the ordinary people and how as a community they acted in concert to overcome the problems.

screen-shot-2015-12-15-at-11-03-57Of particular interest for the Global Media Management students was how crowdsourcing featured as part of the unique constitutional drafting process. As Eileen describes, “Every decision was documented in an open source format for Icelanders and the rest of the world to provide input. This is the world’s first crowdsourced constitution.”

Eileen continued “Blueberry Soup spent the Fall on a whirlwind European screening/discussion tour. Here we found ways of looking at the Icelandic constitutional process as a template for participatory democracy. Incredible projects and initiatives have already begun popping up from these events and we are witnessing a real shift in creative thinking within the sphere of civic engagement.”

She described her visit to Winchester as one of her favourite stops on the tour. “Here we took a new approach to post-screening discussions and asked students to write questions on post-its. We then grouped the questions into like categories and discussed them collectively. This gave all a chance to participate without the pressure of speaking before the class.”

Dr Dan Ashton, MA Pathway Leader commented: “It was very exciting to have Eileen on campus for a screening of the documentary and for discussion/Q&A sessions with students. Through using the #blueberrysoup hashtag we were able to enter into a conversation with others from around the world who had also watched the documentary. Students were able to explore issues of global citizenship and link these to their own experiences. The visit was also a great opportunity to learn more about the filmmaking process, including how Eileen crowdfunded a film about crowdsourcing, and for budding filmmakers to pick up some tips and insights.”

Eileen has received a lot of praise for her documentary, and it has had an extensive screening tour. More information about the film and about Eileen’s production company, Wilma’s Wish – a name based on Eileen’s grandmother – can be found athttp://www.wilmaswishes.com/, and the film can be rented or purchased online athttps://vimeo.com/ondemand/blueberrysoup.

It’s Christmas! Wait… the deadline’s when?

Katy Hobson

Year after year the Christmas holidays were a time for you to forget education and bask in glorious merriment with copious amount of sugar. Your biggest worry was probably, “How am I going to get out of Aunt Judy’s carol night this year?… Yes. I definitely have a fever.” But now in the thick of a Design degree there is so much more to worry about.

Here at WSA hand-in is the fourteenth of January. With Christmas looming the time feels even shorter. There is no way to avoid it, the holidays will be rammed full of project refinement, fights with printers and lots of folder prep, all juggled with present-buying, family gatherings and the yearly skating trip. You are not going to get to watch Jack Frost this year. Or are you? This is my third year of the festive juggling act and this time I’m definitely employing some tactics to get me through.

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Like most students I’m going back ‘home’ to my parents for the holidays. As tempting it is to escape at the moment my Friday tutorial is over, this year I’m not. Instead I’m going to use the weekend to collate all my work into a big plastic box and to take my time deciding what pieces of equipment I’m going to need to get my work done. It’s tempting not to bother with the small things like rubbers, but with no one creative living at my parents any more rubbers can be surprisingly hard to come by.

I’ve already asked my dad if he can put up an old desk in the room I’m staying in. You can’t underestimate the importance of having a usable work space to call yours even over Christmas, it’s essential for getting the best quality work done and when you’re there people will know you’re working so are less likely to pester you.

Once I get home is when the real struggle starts. My mum is a childminder and she employs my cousin, whose son is my Godson, as her assistant. So, three people, who I love to spend time with will present all day, every day! That’s a major distraction. But I find it good to remind myself that if I work more before Christmas Eve then I will have less to do on the days that really matter.

I’m staying off the booze until the twenty-fourth, partly because I like my liver, thanks, but also so I can be fully productive. I can’t do my best work with a foggy head.

Don’t worry the mulled wine will be flowing come Christmas eve.

The best way for me to keep on track is to plan the days, and I’ve already started. The first thing I’ve put into the plan are the big non-uni commitments like the spa day with my mum and her friends, my Godson’s fourth birthday party and the yearly family ice skating trip. Then I’ve allowed myself some of the small things that make Christmas special, like carols round the tree at the local church. From the left over time I’ll plan uni work sessions and closer to the time I’ll attach to-do lists to the slots. I don’t want to get burnt out so I’ve left time for breaks, some free evenings and generous lunch breaks each day.

When planning work sessions I need to consider where I’ll be. I know at the start of the holidays I’ll be at my parents’ but then I’m going to Phill’s parents and after Boxing Day I’m heading north to spend time with my parents’ family in West Yorkshire. So I should plan physical work for the start and get more digital throughout. By the time I’m in the hotel I won’t have desk space and work time will be sporadic so it will be better to do small design tweaks or to edit written pieces; the sort of thing I can dip in and out of. The great thing about Graphic Design coursework is the versatility in the types of activities that need doing. It stops something I’m so passionate about becoming a chore and means there are bits I can do no matter where I am.

Even with all my planning I’ve kept some days off limits: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are all to be untouched. This New Year’s Eve you’ll find me at the cinema watching Star Wars – yes we’ve booked it already – then heading home for pizza and bubbly. It’s my plans for these important days and the other special things that will keep me working.

I know it’s easy to get consumed by deadline stress but remember: it’s Christmas! You’ve worked hard all year so don’t upset these end of year festivities by denying yourself the things you love. Fit your work around them not the other way round. So, go ahead, put your feet up and watch a cheesy movie. You’ve earned it.

Cathy – Digital Marketing Executive

Having graduated from the Global Media Management Programme at Winchester School of Art in 2015, former student Cathy Liu is now three months into her new role at 59 Global Ltd. This is an e-commerce company that hosts online stores on both eBay and Amazon. Based in Romsey, they sell a wide range of household and lifestyle products.

cathy-liuCathy’s role is that of a Digital Marketing Executive. About her job, she says, “I can harness the knowledge and analytical skills I learned from the Global Media Management Programme and use these to assist me in improving the company’s marketing campaign and help to build a new, vibrant website.”

As well as working on the website, Cathy is responsible for designing marketing campaigns and analysing the customer feedback and sales results to create reports for the management of the company.

The co-ordinator of Cathy’s Masters Course, Dr Dan Ashton, commented “’Global Media Management is designed to bring together the analytical and practical skills required to succeed in communications and media roles in international public communications. It’s fantastic to hear the successes of our alumni students and how the course’s strengths in digital media analysis and practice have helped Cathy pursue a career in digital marketing.”Cathy agrees that the skills she learned from her time on her advanced degree have proved invaluable and have given her what she required to start her career in such an impressive way.

WSA leads the way with ‘Analogue Audience/Digital Interfaces’ Symposium

Shwetal A. Patel and Calum Kerr

Our world today is one of increased digital interaction. We use our phones, our computers, our tablets, for almost all activities, and technology has become part of our daily lives.

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Shwetal A. Patel introduces the symposium.

The effect that this might have on art, its production and its appreciation, is something we are only starting to understand. In order to examine this issue more closely, researchers from Winchester School of Art gathered together some of the most forward thinkers in this area for a symposium entitled ‘Analogue Audience/Digital Interfaces’ which was held at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London, on Tuesday 24th November.

Organised by Shwetal A. Patel, a PhD student from WSA who was recently part of the judging panel for the prestigious BMW Art Car series, the event also included WSA’s Head of Research, Ryan Bishop, Head of School, Ed D’Souza, and the school’s Winchester Gallery curator, August Davis.

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James Davis in conversation with WSA’s Ed D’Souza and August Davis.

‘Analogue Audience/Digital Interfaces’ was an attempt to discover something of the nature of the consumption, appreciation and understanding of artworks and how this is changed when a digital interface is interposed between artwork and viewer. The intention was to explore the notion of the ever increasing digitisation and dissemination of art in the internet era, and also to explore philosophical and ideological issues and use this as the beginning for a larger discussion of our age.

The selection of the speakers and moderators was made so as not to distil pre conceived notions or neat ‘take aways’, but rather to gather a diverse range of voices that could set up important questions and examples of what was going on in the field.

Hannah Redler
Hannah Redler

The first speaker was Hannah Redler from the Open Data Institute and she talked about a recent exhibition she curated titled ‘Right Here Right Now’, an exhibition of contemporary art engaged in digital culture, at the Lowry until February 2016. She is also the Open Data Institute Curator in Residence, and a consultant art curator for the Institute of Physics co-curating ‘Light and Dark Matters’. So Hannah brought a wealth of experience of working with artists who are using technology and digital technologies in interesting ways.

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Ashley Wong

 

Ashley Wong, Head of Programmes and Operations at Sedition – a leading online platform for artists to distribute work as digital limited editions for screens & tablets – discussed Sedition as a platform for artists (including Bill Viola, Tracy Emin, Damian Hirst, Elmgreen & Dragset, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Wim Wenders etc) to release their work as digital limited editions for experiencing on tablets, TVs and smart phones. During her presentation she explored several examples of practices of digital artists who are engaging audiences in different ways with technology in their work, and also discussed the interdependent relationship of the digital and physical in the post-digital age.

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Robert Montgomery

Robert Montgomery is a London-based, Scottish artist. He occupies a delicate space between street art and academia.  His simple, graphic poems have been plastered, often illegally, over advertisements and billboards internationally, as well as being available (copyright free) over the internet. Montgomery was initially inspired by the graffiti artists of East London, the poetry of Philip Larkin, the philosophy of Guy Debord, and the French student protestors of May 1968. Montgomery became interested in the Situationist tradition while following the writing of Roland Barthes and Jean Baudrillard during his time at Edinburgh College of Art.

During his presentation Montgomery gave an example of a 22-year-old from Culver City who tattooed one of his poems on her arms and emailed him the image through social media. His studio has since followed how the poems he writes get posted by people on Twitter/Facebook/Pintrest/Instagram etc and how his poem ‘The People You Love Become Ghosts Inside Of You And Like This You Keep Them Alive’ travels out into various communities of people beyond the contemporary art audience and gets used in sometimes unusual and expected ways.

James Davis from Google Art Project talked about this landmark initiative from the world’s largest and most influential technology company. Davis described Google Art Project as an online platform through which the public can access high-resolution images of artworks housed in the initiative’s partner museums and institutions. The fast expanding platform enables users to virtually tour partner museums’ galleries, explore physical and contextual information about artworks, and compile their own virtual collection. By using an internet connected webpage, he showed the audience the “walk-through” feature of the project which uses Google’s Street View technology. Davis largely repeated the stated Google’s position/s and heralded the technology and platform as one that essentially provides “access to art and culture to anyone with an internet connection.”

 

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Chris Dercon in conversation with Ryan Bishop

Chris Dercon, Director of Tate Modern was in conversation with Ryan Bishop and their free-form conversation expanded on some of the Tate Digital initiatives as well as personal insights into running a museum the size of Tate Modern in the digital age. Tate believes that Digital media is an important channel for inspiring, challenging and engaging with local, national and international audiences. Interestingly Dercon stated that although their current Alexander Calder exhibition had received rave reviews from the art and mainstream press and that social media activity had been high, the opening week attendance has been unusually low. This goes against the idea that popularity on the web leads to great footfall at exhibitions.

As a result of the symposium there is now a platform to build upon, and a chance to open the discussion up to audiences and scholars through the internet. The entire event is being transcribed from the 3hrs and 42 mins of audio (links to be provided soon). This, it is hoped, will lead to new questions and possibly some conclusions. After the event, Shwetal Patel commented, ‘I feel this area is very fast moving and we are kind of guinea pigs of the digital revolution. Tech companies, artists, institutions and audiences are still feeling their way through the many changes and opportunities and it will take some time for the ground to settle and for concrete conclusions to be drawn. The lens of time and history will help.’